An increase in tolls by Berbice Bridge Company Incorporated (BBCI) to facilitate maintenance will not be tolerated. This has been affirmed by the Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson.
The minister explained, the fact that the bridge is a floating structure, a maintenance programme to service pontoons and other sections under the bridge is mandatory and should have already been implemented. Though the bridge is not under any imminent threat of collapse, he noted, maintenance is crucial for its longevity.
“For some reason, their maintenance programme has not begun as yet, but I’ve said under no circumstances, should the tolls be raised. When you increase tolls it’s for unforeseen issues, for which the government may step in. I will not entertain raising tolls at this time to facilitate something that should have been factored in already,” Minister Patterson stated.
According to the minister, the government is willing to assist BBCI with its maintenance, providing there are financing options. As recommended, engineers from the Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB) have examined and assessed the Berbice Bridge. Following the assessment, a report on the possibilities was presented and shared with Cabinet.
These engineers are still available for consultations and assistance with maintenance.
“At the end of the day, it’s a Guyanese product and we are ready to assist them, but the ball is in their [BCCI] court to determine how they will do their maintenance. We always said to them being a private company with shares, one of the things you can do is either take a loan or sell your shares so that other private companies or even the government can buy the shares and do the maintenance for the bridge,” Minister Patterson underscored.
When the 2015 National Budget was passed, the government took the first step, which ensured the cost for minibuses to cross the bridge was lowered from $2,200 to $1,900 representing a 10 percent decrease in the toll. This was a promise made and fulfilled by the government.
By: Ranetta La Fleur.