By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Residents of Berbice would soon breathe a sigh of relief as the APNU+AFC government moves to reduce the toll of the Berbice River Bridge, in keeping with a promise made in its 100 days plan.
The announcement was made by Minster of Governance, Raphael Trotman during a post cabinet media briefing on Wednesday, July 29, where he noted that Finance Minister, Winston Jordan will announce the reduced toll figure during his budget presentation.
“It was agreed after much discussion that the toll will be reduced in keeping with the new administration’s first 100 day plan,” Trotman said.
When pointed out that the Berbice Bridge Company is a private one, Trotman made it clear that government will include the Company in its negotiations to reduce the toll and will “not dictate.”
As a matter of fact, the new government is floating the idea of a subsidy for the Berbice Bridge Company so as it offset the cost of the reduction.
“Government is going to negotiate with the company, the idea of perhaps a subsidy that would ensure that the tolls are lowered. We have no intentions of interfering with companies’ right to a rate of fare and a favourable rate of return on their investment. But we believe as a responsible government, we do have a right to represent the people and we heard the cries of the people in Regions 6 and 5 in particular, who demand a lowering and if the Company is unable to do so, government feels it should step in to work with the Company to see how we could literally relieve the burden of the heavy cost of travel across that bridge,” Trotman said.
It should be noted that the private sector is against the reduction in toll on the basis that such a move would only put the future Public/ Private Partnership in jeopardy.