October 24, 2016


…over Demerara River
The Demerara Harbour Bridge is in the news again. Seems the pontoons under the retracting span that allows larger ships to proceed up and down river have to be repaired. It’ll cost some $50 million at least. Now somebody will have to make a decision soon about what they’re gonna do with this bridge. At the fag end of the PPP’s term, there was a seeming “done deal” – a new fixed-span bridge was to be constructed.
When the British announced they’d be giving a grant to the Caribbean – some £300 million – of which Guyana was getting about £50 million – the new APNU/AFC Government hinted they’d use the money to jump start the new bridge. They conceded that with the traffic skyrocketing across the span, it just couldn’t keep up. The present mile-long backups at rush hour – morning and afternoon – will inevitably end up with some road-rage induced violence as most of the 9000 vehicles that pass daily converge in those hours. Yet, they’ve now said the £50 million will be used for a bridge at Mackenzie. Go figure!
But apart from that – there’s the matter of the upkeep for a structure that’s long past its useful life. Built in 1978, it was expected to go for another 25 years, if it had been properly maintained….which takes us up to 2003. But it hadn’t been “properly maintained” and we saw portions of it floating downriver with terrified motorists during the late 1980s. It gave a whole new meaning to the term “floating bridge”.
The PPP Government did start maintaining it after 1992 and pretty soon some said that there were no real lifespans to such structures since worn parts could be replaced. But these worn parts are repaired at a cost, nuh? And what has been shown is that capital injections into the Bridge since 2008 have been averaging more than $400 million annually, while even with the new, higher volumes of traffic, the bridge is still taking in at best $300 million. Plus another $200 million for operating expenses? So this means the taxpayers are coughing up at least $500 million annually to subsidise the Bridge. And this will keep going skywards. Not to mention during non-rush hour times, motorists are held up by the constant welding of replacement plates covering the bridge.
But even if the Government’s gotten cold feet on a new Demerara Harbour Bridge”, why haven’t they moved to overcome one major source of frustration – the “openings” of the Bridge for ship crossings.
With the long-promised navigational lights, weren’t we supposed to have ships “passing in the night”?

…of rites in Britain
Well, the other foot has dropped in Britain on their Brexit. PM Cameron has – in proper stiff upper lip tradition – announced the timetable of his stepping down and Interior Minister Theresa May stepping up to lead the Brexit tango. And a tango it will be – since any attempt at a “charge” would be a repeat of the “Charge of the Light Brigade”! Mass suicide.
But we wish our politicians would notice the traditions that underlie the formal institutions of “democracy” in Britain. There’s no statute, much less a constitutional requirement for Cameron to step down. He believed a particular course of action was best for his country, he espoused that course, and the majority of the people disagreed with him. He properly took that as a vote of “no confidence”.
He could’ve gone on to lead Brexit as Theresa May will. But it wasn’t the moral thing to do. Our leaders don’t have to’ve attended Eton to learn that lesson.

…of financial chutzpah
So, just as we’re banned from having transactions with the Bank of America because of “laundering fears”, word’s out that the US justice dept worked out a deal with mega bank HSBC which laundered US$billions from Mexican drug cartels. HSBC has assets of US$2.6 TRILLION!!
Too big to thief?