Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Press Release – Georgetown, Guyana (Monday November 5, 2018)

The Ministry of Public Infrastructure has stated that since the announcement on Monday, November 5, 2018, that the Government of Guyana has assumed control of the Berbice River Bridge, a few individuals and the main parliamentary opposition have started a campaign of misinformation to spread propaganda about the decision of the government to ensure the smooth operation of the bridge.

The Ministry, therefore, rejects the spurious and inflammatory claims by the Opposition that a private property has been expropriated in breach of Article 142 of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and emphasised that no property has been seized or otherwise taken by the government. We also reject the opposition attempt at fear mongering and statics by exhuming buried legacies of a different era.

As stated in our earlier release, the Minister, in accordance with the powers conferred upon him by Section 11 (b) (i) of the Berbice River Bridge Act, in the interest of public safety issued an Order declaring that the functions of the Concessionaire to maintain and operate the Bridge shall be exercised by the Government of Guyana as of 5th November 2018 until the date the Minister specifies by notice on the cessation of the threat to public safety.

The action taken by the Government of Guyana is in keeping with the responsibility to ensure public order and safety, and to guarantee the continuous operations of Berbice Bridge, which is a critical infrastructure asset to a very important region of our country. The social good provided by this bridge ranks similar to other important social services such as healthcare and education. Its value to the economic fortunes of many of our people is also well recognized. No responsible government could sit and wait for the stalemate, arising from the unreasonable unilateral action of one party, to continue which could lead to massive disruption and dislocations in people’s lives.

This government will not be accused of failure to act in the people’s interest or for dereliction of duty in protecting the vital economic region of the country which is showing signs of economic recovery and growth.

The claim by detractors that the government has nationalised the Berbice River Bridge is appallingly incorrect and mischievous. We should remind the Opposition PPP that the action that has been taken is under the provisions of a law passed when they formed the government and we invite them to resist their usual urge to play politics as the Government takes action to protect the interests and safety of the Guyanese people.

The Coalition Government has no policy to nationalize or take ownership control of any businesses operating legitimately in the territory of Guyana, and we will aggressively resist and push back against any such labelling of our administration. The Coalition Government would also like to assure the business sector that there is no policy or interest to interfere in or take over private businesses or enterprises.

The Berbice River Bridge operates as an essential service, and like all other services in such category, it requires government action in times of national emergency.

In the present dispute, we have taken management control of the operations of the Berbice River Bridge in the interest of public safety and this will remain in effect until an agreement can be reached with the other stakeholders in the dispute.


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