Jagdeo Urges Gov’t to Buy Shares in the Berbice Bridge or Increase Subsidy to Avoid Increase in Tolls

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GEORGETOWN, GUYANA (CITIZENS REPORT) — Increased toll were proposed by the Berbice Bridge Company Inc. (BBCI) and Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo,
contends that Berbicians cannot afford to pay the increases and as such
he is not supportive of the move.

Addressing the issue on Wednesday July 11, 2018 at his news
conference, Jagdeo proposed that government either buy shares in the
Berbice River Bridge or increase its subsidy to the major east-west
thoroughfare across the waterway if it does not want to approve a hike in
tolls.

“Buy out the other shareholders so that more of the bridge becomes
publicly owned or secondly subsidise the increase that should take place
in the toll so they give an injection into the company so the rate remains
flat,” he said, adding that the first option would entail taking over the debt
for the bridge and securing greater equity in return.

Jagdeo acknowledged that the bridge company is contractually obligated
to maintain the bridge and that maintenance works have been deferred in
the past few years.

Jagdeo charged that there was a financial model in place, relative to the
operations of the bridge, which was left by the former PPP/C government,
but noted that he is unsure what has become of that under the APNU
+AFC Coalition Government. He contends that the financial model may
have been tinkered with. “These people- they screw everything up…they
are in a dilemma now because they are caught by their own rhetoric and
what they did, they deferred all the problems in the three years so now it’s
catching up on them,” he said.

On the likelihood of the financial model being changed, the Opposition
Leader charged that how the Government acts moving forward would
determine how future investors responds to invitations for Public Private
Partnerships. According to him, the case could be that investors do not
trust the APNU+AFC Coalition Government to enter into multi-million
dollar deals.

The new tolls proposed by the BBCI would see cars and minibuses
paying – $8,040; pickups, small trucks and four-wheeled drive vehicles –
$14, 600; medium trucks – $27,720; large trucks – $49,600; articulated
trucks – $116,800; freight – $1,680; and boats – $401,040. (citizensreportgy.com)

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