DHB increased toll necessary to remove reliance on gov’t subvention – Minister Ferguson

GINA, GUYANA, Friday, December 16, 2016

Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Annette Ferguson said the significant increase in toll at the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (DHBC) would provide sufficient funds towards its operations, and would preclude the need for Government subvention.

The Minister, who was briefing media today, explained the government subvention given to DHBC came from taxpayers’ money. Minister Ferguson added that, “we must consider that not every taxpayer is a user of the Demerara Harbour Bridge, therefore, it is necessary, to transfer this responsibility from the Government and to allow our taxpayers’ monies to go towards other sectors such as education and health.” The toll increase would therefore make this possible.

Minister within the Ministry of Public infrastructure, Annette Ferguson and Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation’s, General Manager, Rawlston Adams

Minister Ferguson pointed out that with times evolving, more persons are now able to afford vehicles and businesses and are using the bridge to transport their goods and services. This, she noted, leads to a significant increase in traffic each year among vehicles such as private cars, minibuses, and motor lorries, “which makes it even more expensive to maintain the operations of the Harbour Bridge. It is therefore necessary that the toll structure reflects the development we see in our society.”

In 2016, the DHBC received a $150M subvention from government for rehabilitation of three large pontoons, fabrication of buoys and rehabilitation of the retractor span’s hydraulic system. This year, because of the increased toll, no subvention was provided. Only $2M was budgeted which will be used to provide control and hydraulic cabins.

Passengers who rely on public transportation will not be affected by this increase since the tolls for four -wheeled jeeps and mini buses’ remain constant. Motor cycles, motor cars, and tractors, and trailers, will see a 100 percent increase. Goods vehicle and motor vehicle tolls will be raised by 200 percent.

In providing a brief description of the increase over the years, Minister Ferguson highlighted that in January 2009, there were approximately 74,000 trips made by private cars while in January 2010 there were 86,338. By August 2016, the number rose to 163,000.

For minibuses, in January 2010 there were 39,000 and in July, 2016, the figure was 44,000.  Motor lorries with two axles moved from 10,000 trips in January 2010 to 12,000 trips in August 2016, Minister Ferguson pointed out.

The average income made by the bridge from 2008 to 2016 is $489M each year. For the same period, the DHBC expended an average of $910M each year across both its current and capital expenditures, Minister Ferguson noted.

Further, the Minister underlined that, “based on current traffic trends, it is projected that the DHBC will make $550M at the end of 2016 with the current toll structure in place while its current and capital expenditures will stand at a projected $600M.”

On the other hand, the projected revenue for 2017 – with the new toll structure in place and based on the same amount of traffic – would lead to an income of $861M.

Meanwhile, DHBC General Manager, Rawlston Adams, emphasised that while the increases, when described as percentages, sound high, the actual figures must be taken into account. He added that the tolls have not been increased for many categories, for decades.

Minister Ferguson giving a brief history of DBHC said the bridge serves as a crucial link between the East and West Banks of Demerara for thousands of Guyanese, serving as the main access point for work, school, and commercial activity.

The toll increase for the DHBC was announced by Minister Ferguson on Wednesday, December 14, 2016 in the National Assembly.

 

By: Ranetta LaFleur

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