AFC examines lawsuit over New Amsterdam ferry vehicle ban

The Alliance For Change is considering a legal challenge to the government’s decision to ban small vehicles from travelling on the Rosignol /New Amsterdam ferry.

The party says that this ban is “discriminatory and unconstitutional” since “citizens have a constitutional right to use any public service being offered”. It added that “no government has the legal authority to dissuade or compel persons to use or not use a service which is a public one”.

According to a release from the party, this ban is clearly intended to force persons to use the recently opened Berbice Bridge in an attempt to ensure high profits. The party says that after carefully examining the current toll structure for crossing the bridge, it has concluded that the structure is “unduly and unjustifiably high and therefore prohibitive for commuters”.

Further, the party says that the current fare structure contradicts promises made by Head of the Privatisation Unit, Winston Brassington back in 2006. The party referred to a GINA press release dated March 10, 2006, in which Brassington is quoted as saying “in terms of the total amount that they (passengers) pay to cross the bridge, on average, we don’t expect that this amount will be substantially different from that which they are paying to use the ferry,”

He also reportedly said that the amount vehicles pay, in addition to the fares of the passengers in the vehicle, would be almost the same as the one fare that will be charged to cross the bridge. “It is therefore mind-boggling that there have been astronomical hikes in the fares,” the release said.

The party also objects to the way President Bharrat Jagdeo was dismissive of calls for the tolls to be reduced, saying that it is “contemptuous of the people and of the norms of good business planning.” The AFC is also calling for the rate-setting functions of the bridge to be made subject to the regulation of the Public Utilities Com-mission Act.

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