BBCI says it cannot properly service pontoons without increasing revenue

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The Berbice Bridge

The Berbice Bridge Company Inc (BBCI) says Government’s failure to adhere to a contractual agreement has led to the untimely servicing of the pontoons of the bridge.

Following media reports last week that it likely failed a maintenance programme, the Berbice Bridge Company is its defence on Monday laid blame squarely at the feet of Government for what it says was the State’s failure to honour its contractual obligations under the Concession Agreement.

It explained that it was impossible for the Company to efficiently operate and maintain the Bridge which included the scheduled timely servicing of its’ 39 pontoons under the structure.

BBCI contends that Government denied it the revenue the bridge required, through several applications for toll adjustments made since 2015.

“The Company, by government reneging on its obligations to the Company and the people of Guyana, has been denied the revenue required, through several applications for toll adjustments made since 2015, under the Concession Agreement, to operate and maintain the Bridge and for the Company to meet its contractual obligations to its lenders” the BBCI said in a released statement.

Outlining that the company was not shirking from its responsibilities, the BBCI said that, in December 2015, the it commissioned equipment at a cost of approximately one hundred and sixty seven million dollars (G$167M) for the express purpose of servicing the pontoons.

It reminded that Public Infrastructure David Patterson had even praised the Company for its commitment to maintaining the Bridge.

However, the company said that because it was not allowed to increase its tools, as prescribed for under the signed Concession Agreement, it has not been able to make any profits.

In fact, the Company said that it is currently facing an accumulated loss in excess of two billion eight hundred million dollars (G$2.8B).

To that end, the BBCI said that it could not fully implement its maintenance programme unless approval is granted by Government for the tolls to increase.

The Bridge company also made it clear that contrary to what is being reported in a section of the media, because it is not recording a profit it is unable to pay any dividends to its’ common shareholders.

The Company meanwhile says that it is yet to receive an official response from Minister Patterson to its July 9, 2018 application, for a toll adjustment under the Concession Agreement.

Minister Patterson however said recently that Government was awaiting legal advice from Attorney the General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, before engaging the Berbice Bridge Company.

Before then, BBCI Chairman Dr Surendra Persaud revealed that the company is facing bankruptcy, and made proposals to increase its tolls by as much 300 per cent in some cases, to keep the Berbice Bridge afloat.

Despite initially rejecting the proposed 300 per cent toll increase, Government has said it would continue to work with the BBCI to ensure that the Bridge was sufficiently maintained and is safe for vehicular and marine use.

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