[www.inewsguyana.com] – While some Berbicians are grateful for a reduced bridge toll, others are not, noting that they expected it to be reduced lower.
During the budget presentation on August 10, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan announced that the Berbice River Bridge toll would be reduced from $2200 to $1900 for cars and minibuses while a 10 % discount across the board is expected for all other vehicles.
In light of this recent announcement, iNews managed to gather the views of several Berbice residents; while some welcome the reduction, others expressed dissatisfaction in the toll not being reduced significantly.
Rakesh Singh said he is happy that the government full filled their promise on the reduction.
“Even though the reduction is small, it stills allows for you to have a pocket change”. Times are tough and any savings or reduction that I can get, I would welcome it,” he said.
Another Berbician, Alan James told this media outlet that he too welcomes the reduction.
“As a private driver it is hard to find $2200 to cross the bridge every time, the $1900 would be challenging to find but it is less. I welcome and it was a good move by the government because to cross the Demerara Habour Bridge is just a $100 for cars and buses and the big vehicles pay like only $200 and now we can enjoy a cheaper fare,” he said.
However, some dissatisfied travelers like Pamela Ramnauth said, “I honestly thought we would have paid less. $1900 is like no discount. When we travel we would still have to pay the normal rate because the car men them would not want to reduce their fare. If the government had reduced the toll to like $1500; that would have been far better for us passengers because the bus fare and car fare would have dropped”.
Another unpleased Berbician, Jimmy [only name given] stated that the $300 reduction “is like a joke” because the toll remains almost the same.
“When they were campaigning they announced that they would reduce the bridge toll and from the way they were campaigning I believe we would have gotten a major reduction. I am not pleased with the reduction at all”.
Meanwhile, taxi drivers who operate the Berbice River Bridge on a daily basis said they welcome the reduction. According to Vice President of the 56 route minibus association, Dwarak Sooklall, the reduction is good and they would be passing it down to their passengers.
He explained that “We would give our passengers a $10 reduction from the 1st of September”.
Sooklall said they can’t reduce the fare any further because other commodities like gas and oil for maintenance are still expensive. He also encouraged more persons to utilize the route service to get across the bridge. The 56 route operates from New Amsterdam to Rosginol and has been around for the past seven years.
Meanwhile, a taxi driver who operates the New Amsterdam/Georgetown route, Scott Samuels said he welcomes the $300 drop in toll but can’t afford to reduce his taxi fare since gas prices keeps climbing. However, he noted that if the gas prices should reduce, taxi drivers might be able to reduce the fare, adding that they would wait and see what occurs after September 1st.
In addition, several passengers, who traverse the Berbice Bridge using the route 56 minibuses, said that it would be difficult for passengers or drivers to give the $10 change. They noted that it would be as if they would still pay their $300 to cross over the bridge.
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.