Min. Patterson slams misleading BBCI report
– will meet company to discuss maintenance and repairs only
DPI, Guyana, Thursday, September 5, 2019
Minister of Public Infrastructure, Hon. David Patterson has slammed a report from the Berbice Bridge Company Incorporated (BBCI) which accused him of refusing to meet with them to discuss the possible sale of the bridge.
The minister said while he has indeed refused to meet with the entity, it is because “our priorities are very different.”
In a Facebook post today, Minister Patterson said he remains “laser-focused” on the safe and affordable transit of goods and people over the Berbice River. He said it appears, however, that the company also has an unwavering focus – that of the maximizing financial returns for its shareholders at the expense of the citizens of Guyana.
The minister said he is willing to meet at any time to further discuss the maintenance and repairs of the Berbice River Bridge only, since a case, brought by the company, is still before the courts.
The BBCI was referencing a comment by Minister Patterson when he appeared on the National Communications Network’s ‘INSIGHT’ on Monday.
“Yes, the matter of the government protecting citizens from the unconscionable rates of the BBCI, is in the Court, where the BBCI placed it… So you say to the company – while I have always been “willing to seek a resolution regarding matters of national importance”, [I am] unwilling to have any further discussions with that company since they have taken the matter to court; which is their right,” Minister Patterson said in his Facebook post.
Minister Patterson said BBCI has not yet addressed the non-repairs of at least six pontoons that support the bridge. Further, he notes their refusal to allow the government to proceed with the repairs even after the government has made available $120M for this purpose.
“The good citizens of Regions 5 & 6 should be aware that the pontoons supporting this bridge have been in the river since at least 2008 – eleven (11) years without maintenance when the recommended maintenance period is every three (3) years. There are thirty-nine (39) pontoons supporting this bridge, a simple calculation would reveal that if repairs are affected at six per year, it would take almost seven years to repair all the pontoons. Yes, there is a possibility of some pontoons being in the river for eighteen (18) years without repairs,” the minister stated.
He said the recent events at DHB demonstrated the effects that can result if a main artery, such as a bridge linking two regions, becomes inaccessible.
Fortunately, for the country, Minister Patterson said, the DHB has a “dream team” of management and technical support staff that were able to minimise the impact of the accident.
“This company, BCCI, has no such team and are yet to even present an emergency plan in the case of an accident.”