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President says Gov’t has no plans to take over Berbice Bridge

- But ready to engage owners on possible toll reduction.

The Central Corentyne Chambers of Commerce (CCCC) on Monday issued a call to the Government to take over ownership of the Berbice Bridge as they related the high cost of travel to the ancient Region.

President Irfaan Ali who was at the time engaging residents of Region Six acknowledged that indeed the toll cost is high for both Berbicians and even those who traverse the Region.

However, in response to the Chamber’s call, the Head of State posited that the Government will not be taking ownership of the bridge.

“We live in a free and open market and a Government just can’t go and take over” the Head of State explained.

Dr Ali however noted that the government is willing to engage the owners of the bridge and sought possible solutions for both the management of the bridge and commuters.

“We are ready to engage the ownership of the bridge to work on a possible outcome to see what their position is and if it is that we can come up with a strategy that will reduce that cost, bet our last dollar we will do it because we want you to benefit. We want to make investments that will make life easier for you.”

The current toll for private car owners is $2200 and with a government subsidy, the cost will be reduced to $1900 - a $300 reduction. For minibuses, trucks and other vehicles crossing the bridge, the cost varies accordingly.

The call for the Government to take over ownership of the bridge is not a new one. The former APNU+AFC coalition government had done so for a period to avoid a toll increase.

The management of the Berbice Bridge had argued at that point of time that they were at the peak of facing bankruptcy and had applied to the Ministry of Public Works under the leadership of the subject minister, David Patterson for this increase, but those applications were ignored.

The company had proposed to increase the toll of cars and minibuses from $2,200 to $8,040, pickups and small trucks from $4,000 to $14,600, medium trucks from $7. 600 to $27,720, large trucks from $13,600 to $49,600, articulated trucks $32,000 to 116,680, freight from $460 to $1,680 and boats $110,000 to $401,040.

With massive development planned for this Region, the toll cost is expected to reduce eventually.

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