EYEWITNESS: Bridge…

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…and Berbice votes

Now that the dust may be settling over the proposed toll increases for the Berbice River Bridge crossing by the BBCI, maybe we can begin to see a way out of the miasma. But even before we get to that we’ve got to clear up some misconceptions on the financing and control of the Bridge. These have been thrown around in the past and may be clouding some folks’ judgement.

For those of us who aren’t in the finance world, it might be useful to remember it’s the COMMON stockholders from five entities who own the bridge – with shares valued at $400 million.  After the NIS bought out CLICO’s shares when they went belly-up, they became the largest common shareholder.

But more pertinently, two years ago, after NICIL bought out the DDL subsidiary (DEC) which owned one block of shares, the Government through its various agencies – such as NIS and NICIL – assumed majority ownership of the bridge!!

As per the rules of the BBCI, the Board of Directors – to a maximum of eight – are in proportion to the number of shares owned – and as such, the governmental entities also have a majority on the Board!! Therefore, the Government cannot now plead surprise over whatever decision the Board has taken to propose that horrific increase in tolls. THE GOVERNMENT’S MAJORITY REPS HAD TO HAVE SUPPORTED THE MOVE…IF NOT SUGGESTED IT!!

So what’s really going on? As with everything else in Guyana, your Eyewitness figures politics is at the bottom! As to where the politics is coming from – you only have to read the “reactions” of the (AFC) Public Infrastructure Minister, James Patterson and the (AFC) DPI’s Op-ed in the Chronic to know. It’s all about the AFC trying to rile up Berbicians to not support the PPP at the LGE by blaming THEM for THEIR suggested toll hike!!

And after the Berbicians are riled up good and proper, the AFC will ride in like a knight in shining armour to “work something out”!! Ahhh… these fellas will walk over their mothers’ grave to get some votes to stave off their imminent decay from “dead” to “putrid” meat!!

But in all of this Sturm und Drang, there may be a silver lining.

The biggest investor in the bridge is the NIS – with both common and preferred stocks. But as we read recently, the NIS isn’t getting a hefty enough return on their investments overall. So why don’t the PNC Government have NICIL buy out all the other common stock shareholders and run the bridge – so that the NIS can begin to get proper returns on all those preferred shares?
This way, it’ll be a win-win all around!! Save for the AFC!!

…and Demerara votes

Looks like the AFC thinks their salvation lies in bridges. While in Berbice – as we described above – they’re riling up folks, over in Demerara they’re promising salvation for the long-suffering folks over on the West Coast, who take a full hour to just CROSS their bridge! And once more it’s MPI Patterson in the thick of things.

Shrugging off the inquiry into his sole-sourcing the design for the new Demerara bridge crossing – for a whopping $143 million and which design was promptly SCRAPPED after the Chinese Ambassador said it was “19th century!! – Patterson’s now blithely promising construction of the bridge will star NEXT year!! Can you believe this guy?? He still hasn’t even received a bid on the new design – which he now concedes should be four rather than three lanes – nor settled on a financing model (BOOT? PPP?) and he’ll start in 2019?? What’s this guy smoking?

…to riches?

In addition to pumping oil in the North, according to the IDB, we could earn big bucks in the South if we start to raise more of our forests in our South!!

There’s REDD money and Carbon Credits in the offing!!

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