By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – With the ongoing stalemate between the Government of Guyana and the Berbice Bridge Company Inc (BBCI) showing no sign of an early cessation, Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson says government is looking to implement the Berbice River taxi service at the earliest possible date.
Government recently announced that it will be moving to implement a river taxi system with subsidized costs for the elderly and students. The move received generally mixed reviews from the general public.
Patterson at a press conference on Monday, September 07, explained that a meeting is planned with the Berbice Private Sector for this week to see how soon the plan can be implemented and what role the private sector is willing to play, if any.
“We can do it immediately,” said Patterson as he explained that there is nothing stopping the government from moving ahead with the proposed alternative.
When asked why the government had not chosen other routes to resolve the Berbice Bridge issue, Patterson stated that providing a subsidy was the easiest way to get reduced tolls for the general public.
He also noted that the government has not made any considerations of nationalizing the company in its efforts to effect cheaper tolls for residents.
Finance Minister, Winston Jordan had told the National Assembly that the toll for passenger cars and buses will be reduced from $2,200 to $1,900, a 13.6 percent decline.
At the same time, the toll for all other types of vehicles will be reduced by 10 percent. The Finance Minister revealed that over 150,000 Guyanese live within Regions 5 and 6 and traverse the Berbice Bridge to access education and health services, conduct business and travel on a daily basis and that thousands more traverse the bridge annually.
But the Bridge Company on August 29 had stated that it runs the risk of going bankrupt if the reduction takes effect, pointing out that no consultation was held with the Company officials prior to the reduction being announced.