Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson has reiterated that the government will not allow any toll increase for the Berbice Bridge.
During the 98th Sitting of the National Assembly, Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson highlighted that the Berbice River Bridge’s concessional agreement between the then Ministry of Public Works and the Berbice Bridge Company Incorporated (BBCI) was signed on June 2006. This agreement sets out the parameters for the design, construction, development, operation and maintenance of the bridge.
“There has been a general cry in relation to the proposed increase in 2018, it is not functionable and something which the Coalition Government cannot and will not tolerate. The Berbice Bridge Company is in breach of the concessional agreement section 401 subsection 2 of the Berbice River Act 2006,” Minister Patterson explained.
Since the construction of the bridge in 2008 to 2015, there was one request for toll increase in March 2015 and which was rejected by the previous administration.
Minister Patterson noted that in keeping with the government’s campaign promises in 2016, it has subsidised the bridge to allow for a decrease in tolls. Tolls were reduced by 10 per cent and $155M per annum subsidy paid from January 2016.
Since this government took office, BBCI has sought three toll increases in 2016, 2017 and 2018, these were never approved.
To date, BBCI has agreed for the Ministry of Public Infrastructure to assume responsibility for the maintenance of the 39 pontoons which will commence in 2019. BBCI will also provide full details of its current $6Billion debt by November 1, 2018.
Ranetta La Fleur
Image by Keno George
Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson