We will never allow such increases – Min. Patterson on the Berbice Bridge tolls

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Amidst calls for the government to rethink its decision to not grant toll increases to the Berbice Bridge Company Incorporated (BBCI), Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson says the government will not allow the draconian increases under any circumstances

“The Government’s position remains the same. We think that the proposed cost by the Berbice Bridge Company Incorporated (BBCI) is way in excess and would be burdensome to the citizens of Berbice, in Regions Five and Six.’

Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson being greeted by Toshaos at the NTC.

Minister Patterson further added, “We are not at this time or at any time at all, contemplating raising the tolls to those levels – 300%! We obviously will continue to engage the BBCI for alternative solutions save and except passing it on to the consumers.”

Meanwhile, Attorney at Law Nigel Hughes says the Berbice Bridge was badly conceptualised and doomed to failure. He says the bridge also stands at an inappropriate location

“The Berbice Bridge was a financial disaster, the numbers never added up, they still do not add up. They want to carry the fares up. It becomes a political issue; but the reality for us in Guyana is, had we initially run the numbers, the bridge wouldn’t be located where it is today. It would be located down the river where it was narrower and more feasible… If we had really run the numbers we would have ended up with a permanent fixed span bridge rather than a floating bridge,” Hughes said.

Both Minister Patterson and Attorney-at-Law Hughes were present at the National Toshaos Council 12th Annual Conference being hosted at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre under the theme “Preserving Our Past, Protecting Our Future

Chairman of BBCI, Dr. Surendra Persaud, recently called on the government to allow the company to increase its tolls to keep the Berbice Bridge afloat. The bridge was constructed under a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) scheme, a public-private partnership venture.

The construction of the bridge under the Bharrat Jagdeo administration was heavily criticised because a few private investors were allowed almost total control, though only investing only a fraction of the almost GYD $9.5Billion (US$45Million) used to build it. The Government of Guyana is the largest investor but can only take control after 20 years.

By: Kidackie Amsterdam.