Patterson ordered to tell court why Govt took over Berbice Bridge

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Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson has been ordered by the High Court to give reasons behind his decision to grant the November 1, 2018 Berbice River Bridge Toll Order, which saw government taking over the maintenance and operation of the Bridge Company.

As part of the legal proceedings filed by the Berbice Bridge Company, in its bid to retake operations of the bridge and implement toll increases, the court was asked to have Minister Patterson supply the facts and reasons for his decision to take over the operations.

Prior to filing the legal challenge, the Bridge Company had written the Public Infrastructure Minister, asking for the facts and reasons within 14 days as provided for by section 15 of the Judicial Review Act, but the Minister never responded.

As such, during yesterday’s in-chambers hearing, High Court Judge Justice Gino Persaud directed the Minister to state his reasons for issuing the Toll Order.

Lawyer for the Bridge company, Attorney Ralph Ramkarran, said the Minister was given 28 days to file his response.

Deputy Solicitor General Debra Kumar appeared on behalf of the State.

Back in October, the Bridge Company had disclosed that it is facing bankruptcy and as such proposed to increase its tolls, as much 300 per cent in some cases, to keep the bridge company afloat.

However, this was strongly opposed by government, and Minister Patterson on November 5, took over the functions of maintaining and operating the bridge and ordered that the tolls remain unchanged.

Less than a month later, the Company approached the High Court to quash the Minister’s order, to allow them to resume responsibility for the bridge and also implement the toll hikes.

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