The Panamanian Crew members of the tugboat, Marina Oceanic and barge ML3004, that collided with Demerara Habour Bridge is currently in police custody.
This is what Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson said as he provided an update on the situation which has affected ten of thousands of commuters.
The crew is at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), where members are providing statements.
Patterson said that based on the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD)’s preliminary report, the vessel was not manned “properly”. Also, the call for help came too late.
The minister said that the vessel and its cargo were drifting all the way from the Grove/Diamond area and the crew had ample time to notify personnel in Georgetown, however, this was not done.
Patterson said that the distressed call was made late to the lighthouse, and when it was received, the officials could not understand what was being said, since the crew could not speak English.
The word “mayday” was recognized, however, and this initiated a process where the Harbour Master was notified, who subsequently contacted a tugboat owner to render assistance to the distressed vessel. Unfortunately, by the time assistance could be rendered, contact was already made. The collision occurred sometime around 00:35hrs this morning, sources revealed.
General Manager (GM) of the Bridge Company, Rawlston Adams, said that some of the works to be carried out hinges greatly on the tide. He noted that the southern side of the bridge was struck twice: at span 12-13 and span 16. The tide is affecting the maintenance crew to initiate the installation of nine anchor chains on the southern side.
Adams noted that as soon as the tide turns, the crew will try to install at least four of these components by today, which will allow the crew to work late into the evening.
He said that the collision has sent the bridge “out of alignment”. This has resulted in the suspension of Marine Traffic since the company will not risk retraction of the span.
“The bridge is completely out of alignment between the highest span and the retractor span. This morning we were able to replace the connecting posts at span 13 and that was to facilitate us moving over to span 16 and getting equipment over to span 16. We had to put in some temporary decking and we will be working at span 16 to reconnect the connecting posts,” he said.
From all indications, the company will be working to complete the necessary repairs by early Tuesday to accommodate the flow of light traffic.