|The recently beautified aluminum structure that stands tall on Brickdam is a constant reminder to those who traverse the thoroughfare of Guyana’s sovereignty and of the struggles endured to attain such heights.|
That structure is called the Independence Arch. The Arch, which serves as a landmark, had a twin structure situated at Ruimveldt but that structure, also made out of aluminum, is nowhere to be found.
Both Arches were presented by the then Canadian-owned Demerara Bauxite Company (DEMBA) as a gift to the people of Guyana on the achievement of independence from Britain.
Work began about a year ago to spruce up the surviving arch which the new government said had been neglected for years.
It was no easy task. The overflowing and clogged drains on both sides of the arch were dug out to improve drainage especially during the rainy season. The base of the arch was also excavated with the aim of increasing its height in that flood-prone area.
Guyana Inc. understands that BK International, a major privately-owned Guyanese construction firm, contributed heavily to the rehabilitation process; while, Cummings Electrical repaired the lights that are affixed to the arch.
The Arch of itself needed to be shined. There were also some added fixtures that further beautified the structure. President David Granger himself made several visits to the site when the structure was under rehabilitation.
Last year’s Independence celebrations were the first in years that included recognition of the lone monumental reminder of Guyana’s freedom.
A wreath-laying and flag-raising ceremony was done on the morning of May 26, 2015 at the landmark. Celebrations were shifted from Parliament Building. Wreaths were laid by representatives of trade unions, political parties, diplomats and others officials in honour of Guyana’s founding fathers such as late Presidents Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham. This was several hours before the inauguration of President David Granger at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence.
As part of its contribution to Guyana’s Golden Jubilee celebration this year, the Banks DIH Group of Companies has funded the creation and installation of an arch to replace the missing Ruimveldt Arch.
This is according to Banks DIH Chairman Clifford Reis. The new arch has been recently erected at Agricola, which is now the boundary of the capital city.
The Ruimveldt Arch has been missing since it was removed in November 14, 2004. At the time expansion works were ongoing on the East Bank road from the DemeraraHarbour Bridge to Ruimveldt, where the arch was located.
When the arch was taken down, the then Public Works Minister Anthony Xavier said that a new one would be set up on the four-lane road.
Four years after its removal, the then Public Works Minister Robeson Benn indicated that the damage caused during its removal and bad storage had made the Independence Arch unsuitable to be put up anywhere in the city. At the time, the government had again committed to its rebuilding and reinstallation before the 2009 Independence celebrations.
More than 10 years after the removal of the arch it is nowhere to be found.
Staff of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure said that the last they knew of the Arch was that it was stored in the compound of the Ministry on Fort Street.
The arches, which marked the former boundaries of the capital city, were on May 22, 1966 formally presented to then Prime Minister Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham by the Managing Director of the Demerara Bauxite Company, Mr. J G Campbell.
In his presentation, Mr. Campbell noted that the arches, which were designed by a Canadian architect, Mr. Edric Flack, could be described as truly Guyanese. They had been built of aluminum that was made from the bauxite from Mackenzie.