Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo is adamant that the proposed increases for the Berbice River Bridge is “unconscionable” and is not supported by the Concession Agreement that was signed by his party in 2006.
At his press conference which was held earlier today, Jagdeo categorically stated that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is completely opposed to the proposed adjustment which is almost 400 percent.
The former Head of State said, “The PPP is opposed to any toll increase at this time or any time in the future. The increase is not part of the contract…We believe that the government should release the contract and the financial model. These documents will prove that the 400 percent should not even be there in the first place. Also, releasing the contract will not harm the financial interest of the investors in the bridge…Guyanese would see that the toll schedule caters for minimal increases…”
The Opposition Leader also blasted the government for stating that it is going to seek legal advice on the matter of the proposed rates. Jagdeo said that this is “utter garbage!”
He said that all the government has to do is, refuse to sign the toll order which would allow the increases to become law.
Jagdeo said, “The Berbice Bridge Act says that the Minister has to issue a toll order specifying the maximum toll at the bridge so I see this as a campaign issue given the fact that they are saying they will do all that it takes to fight the increases…All it takes or all they have to do is to not sign the toll order.”
Additionally, Jagdeo said that the financial model for the bridge does not cater for an almost 400 percent increase of the tolls. According to documents referenced by Jagdeo, there is only a proposed six percent increase for 2014 and a 17 percent increase in the tolls for 2017. He explained that these “minimal” projections were made to cater for the debt repayment period that would be due at those times. The Opposition Leader also indicated that after that time period, the rates see a steep decline.
On that basis, Jagdeo said, “So we are opposed to this. Financially, it can’t be justified and we know that this increase is not part of the contract we signed and we pointed that out to you. We believe that the Minister must release the contract… There is no secrecy about it.”
The Opposition Leader also urged Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson not to sign the toll order.
It was on Tuesday that the Berbice Bridge Company Inc. released its proposed toll increases to the public which are expected to come into effect on November 12, at 12:01 am.
The increases are as follows:
|Large Trucks||$49, 600|