By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Hundreds of Guyanese, particularly the residents of Rosignol, West Coast Berbice are adamant that the Berbice Bridge toll should be lowered and the Ferry Service across the Berbice River should be reintroduced to make the livelihood of citizens, particularly school children, more accommodating.
The combined parliamentary Opposition on May 15 passed a resolution in the National Assembly calling on Public Works Minister Robeson Benn to make the order, as is mandated, to reduce what it says are exorbitant toll prices for using the Berbice Bridge.
This resolution was rejected by the Ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C), arguing the move was a political one and an attack on private investment. The PPP/C accused the combined political Opposition of trying to put Berbicians against the PPP, by creating the impression that the government is heartless by not wanting to reduce the toll fee of the Berbice River Bridge.
In light of these varying standpoints, iNews visited Rosignol on Saturday, June 14 to hear what the people had to say.
Cheryl Ferguson: Lower Berbice Bridge Toll– “It’s very stressful, I had to transfer one of my daughters and bring her to Rosignol Secondary, I have another one going to Berbice High School and it’s very stressful in the morning, I have to find$1,000 a day. Very hard I think they should reduce the price or get special transportation arrangements for children going to school across there. It’s very hard on parents.
Bring Back The Ferry– “Nothing was wrong with the boat. Who wanted to go with the boat will go and who want to go with the bridge will go with the bridge. Poor people could go with boat and rich ones who want to reach fast where they going can go with the bridge. Bring back the boat.”
Anita:Lower Berbice Bridge Toll – “They should really lower the toll. I have nothing more to say just that it’s too high for poor people struggling and it should be lowered.”
Bring Back The Ferry-“Yes they should bring back the ferry service, at least for the school children because sometimes you don’t get the money and can’t afford for them to go over with the bridge.”
Marci:Lower Berbice Bridge Toll-“I think lowering the toll will be very good for a lot of people. I was living in New Amsterdam and now I had to come over here due to my business because is $2,000 a day. I have a house over there and had to relocate and rent over here because it’s too expensive.”
Bring Back The Ferry–“Of course, that will be very good too so I can travel often, I have my sons over there and I can’t go because the toll is too high. If the ferry comes back then you have options.
Ammad:Lower Berbice Bridge Toll-“I am supportive of reducing the bridge toll, I have a hire car that I work and if the toll drop I can work from Georgetown straight over. I glad if the toll drop it means we will get more work .
Bring Back The Ferry–“Even if we ask I don’t think they will bring it back but it’s a good idea.
Freddy:Lower Berbice Bridge Toll–“Bridge toll very expensive. That toll should be reduced a long time ago, it’s too much for poor people they should really see something to drop the toll of the bridge. Since thebridge came people can’t say when last they go over the water because the fare too expensive.
Bring Back The Ferry–“Long time I like ferry running. You see when ferry running everybody get chance to make a bread. In 2004 it used to be better business and ferry must boost business because it’s a cheaper price. If the government could look and see how they can help I would really be glad for it.”
Roopchand:Lower Berbice Bridge Toll-“Thebridge toll too high, the buses will make the money because they fetching a lot of passengers but for the car the toll too much. For certain people it will work out but not all people. The car supposed to pay $1,000. The bridge is bad for business too, it helping because it faster but the fee too high. People look at Demerara Bridge but you know how much people pass per day there, if they drop the fee more vehicles will pass and they will make more money.”
Mr. Lily:Lower Berbice Bridge Toll-“It’s more than high, it’s disrespectful. It’shigh totally high.”
Bring Back The Ferry–“They should bring back the ferry it would be good and will help more people.”
Croal:Lower Berbice Bridge Toll –“That’s the only bridge in the whole world so dare. Why Demerara bridge so cheap? It’s too much lies that’s the whole thing. If I had my daughter to go across there I would have died with the expense.
Bring Back The Ferry-“Bring back the ferry! That is one of my criteria. The ferry is just as good as the train. All across the world ferry is a savior to a lot of people.
Meanwhile, there were reports that the pontoon which currently transports persons across the river is unsafe.
Tourism Minister Irfaan Ali had argued that fulfilling a request to lower the toll would prove to be improbable since the government has no direct ownership stake in the company that owns the bridge – the Berbice Bridge Company.
He said the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL) also has no ownership stake in the company and consequently no voting right.
Ali pointed out however, that while the National Insurance Scheme owns twenty percent of ordinary shares, it is only represented by one Director on the Board and no one Director can determine or undermine the decision of the full Board.
Among the Opposition’s proposals are for cars and minibuses which currently pay $2,200 to pay $ 1,000; for cycles to pass free and for four wheel drive vehicles to pay $3,000 instead of $4,000.