During a further case management conference this morning, Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire instructed the lawyers in the challenge mounted against government’s takeover of the Berbice River Bridge to file written submissions by Friday, September 13. Thereafter the parties will return to court on Tuesday, October 8, for a report hearing.
Late last year, the Berbice Bridge Company Incorporated (BBCI) moved to the High Court where it asked that government’s decision to take over the maintenance and operation of the Berbice Bridge be quashed. It had also asked that Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson provide reasons for government’s decision.
To justify its request, BBCI cited Section 15 of the Judicial Review Act which states, “It is the duty of any person or body making administrative decisions, if requested in accordance with this section by any person adversely affected by the decision, to supply that person with a statement setting out the findings on material questions of facts, referring to the evidence or other material on which those findings were based and giving the reasons for the decision.”
In light of BBCI announcing a 360% increase in tolls, the government, in November 2018, announced that it would be taking temporary control of the bridge in the interest of the public. This was done by a notice published in the Official Gazette.
According to the notice, the government said that the takeover was necessary.
The BBCI, however, argues that by a Concession Agreement dated June 12, 2006, entered into between the Ministry of Public Works and Communications, on behalf of the Government of Guyana, and the company, it was made clear that the company shall be obliged at its own expense to operate and maintain the toll bridge.