By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] –Public Works Minister Robeson Benn is expected, within coming days, to sign the order to permit increases to the MacKenzie/Wismar Bridge which links the two communities in Linden, Region Ten (10).
Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon, made the announcement this morning; pointing out that the nod given by Cabinet was merely in agreement with recommendations made by the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development.
Dr. Luncheon could not provide the details of the new crossing rates but said that a total of $8 to $10 million in revenue is expected to be recovered from the increases.
He said too that the revenue collected will be shared between the Interim Management Committee of the Linden Town Council and the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL). The bulk of the proceeds will go to the IMC while the rest of the money will go to NICIL, which has been tasked with the maintenance of the crossing.
The bridge which facilitates travel to the furthest reaches of Guyana’s southern border, including to Rockstone, Lethem and to the Takutu Bridge that links Guyana to Brazil has had its toll raised by some 25% by the IMC which was intended to take effect from September 1.
However, following an order by the Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker, the IMC moved to put on hold the proposed increase in vehicular tolls.
It was explained then, amid protest from Lindeners, that the increase was in an effort for the cash-strapped municipality to garner funds so that it could pay its employees and carry out other functions.
This new fare increase represents the first increase in the bridge’s toll since 1994 (20 years ago).
The 50 year old structure has undergone tremendous repairs costing some $30M by Linmine in 1994 after it had been damaged and that entity had indicated an intention to recoup its expenditure. This was done without increasing the toll to cross the bridge.
The bridge had again undergone major repairs in 2009, but this time, the Government under former President Bharrat Jagdeo had pumped over $100M into the repairs done.
When proposed by the IMC, the new rates applicable to crossing the bridge were as follows:
– Articulate trucks: The rate has moved from $3000 to $4000
– Heavy earth moving equipment: The rate has moved from $1500 to $2000
– Three axle trucks: The rate has moved from 1500 to $2000
– Heavy duty vehicles: The rate has moved from $1000 to $1200
– Bosai vehicles will continue to pay $1200
– Goods vehicles of three to four tons’ capacity will move from paying $700 to paying $840
– Goods vehicles of two to three tons’ capacity will move from paying $500 to paying $600
– Tractor/Trailers will move from paying $400 to paying $500
– Goods vehicles of one to two tons’ capacity will move from paying $400 to paying $500
– Goods vehicles of less than 1 ton capacity will move from paying $200 to paying $240
– Greater 15-seat minbuses will move from paying $100 to paying $120
– 4×4 Vehicles will move from paying $60 to paying $80
– Minibuses will cease paying $60 and will start paying $80
– The toll for Cars will remain at $40
It is not clear if the administration have approved this very toll proposal.