Burdensome Berbice Bridge tolls were put in place by previous administration

Dear Editor,

Permit me to disprove of the fallacious and mischievous letter which appeared in the letter column of the July 13, 2018 edition of the Kaieteur News, titled “Why Not Nationalise the Berbice Bridge?”, authored by Nowrang Persaud.

The writer deliberately ignored the facts on the proposed increases by the Berbice Bridge Company Incorporated and instead, attributed the burdensome bridge tolls at feet of the Coalition Government when he stated, “Our national government seems comfortable with building, maintaining and subsiding the operation of a new Demerara River Bridge (reportedly, in addition to the existing Demerara River Bridge); commuters pay the paltry sum of $200 for a car to use the bridge, while the same commuter, who pays the same taxes to the Government, has to pay virtually twenty times more to cross the Berbice River Bridge.”

It behooves that Mr Persaud would intentionally omit or discard, the immediate response issued by the Hon. David Patterson, Minister of Public Infrastructure on this matter. The following is the full statement. It reads:

“The Ministry of Public Infrastructure notes comments by the Berbice Bridge Company officials at a press conference today, Tuesday, July 10, and wishes to assure all Berbicians and users of the Berbice Bridge that government is not contemplating any increases to the Berbice Bridge toll.

Government stands by its decision to reduce tolls in fulfilling a campaign commitment and will continue to work with the Berbice Bridge Company in ensuring that the Bridge is sufficiently maintained and safe for vehicular and marine use.

Further government notes that the Bridge Agreement places obligations on all parties, which include scheduled maintenance and associated upgrades. Any request for toll increases must take into consideration a wide array of factors and cannot solely be on the basis of recouping operational costs and profits on dividend.

The Berbice Bridge provides a critical service to the public and tolls must remain reasonable and cannot be arbitrarily hiked to oppressive and onerous levels. Government will continue to take practical decisions in the interest of the people of Guyana and the provision of quality services.”

In light of this, it’s noteworthy that Mr. Persaud is reminded that the initial oppressive Berbice Bridge tolls were placed on the backs of Berbicians by the then PPP/C administration. The Coalition Government after assuming office in 2015 reduced these toll rates, which brought needed relief to commuters, in keeping with its campaign promise. I’d also like to take this opportunity to inform Mr. Persaud that, to the best of my knowledge, there has been no decision taken with regard to toll rates for the proposed new Demerara River Bridge.

Yours faithfully,

Earl Hamilton

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