While the government has vowed to reduce the Berbice Bridge toll as at September 1, they now fear that delay tactics are being employed to frustrate the fulfillment of that 100 day campaign promise. This is according to Minister of Finance Winston Jordan during post-Cabinet’s weekly press briefing Friday August 28.
The Minister pointed out that despite previous discussions held with the company, not only did it take them, “over two weeks and several telephone calls before an inconclusive response was finally received,” but after another meeting with the company one day ago, Thursday August 27, the directors have now decided to place the matter before their shareholders.
Jordan charged that, “With September 1 fast approaching, the Government is concerned that these delaying and dilatory manoeuvres appear designed to frustrate the reduction in the tolls and hold the travelling public hostage.”
The Minister went on to clarify that the government is in fact waiting on the company to give their blessings for the people to start getting lower fares on September 1.
He said, “I am giving them the money upfront quarterly. So they are making three months interest, two months interest and one month interest because I am giving them the money quarterly in advance and they need to reconcile at the end of every quarter to see whether I have to give them more or whether the balance can go over to the next quarter and I give them the new quarter increase.”
The Minister pointed out that it is the government’s wish to amicably conclude this transaction with the company that will lead to the implementation of the announced toll reductions, expected to commence days from now.
“While we respect the Concession Agreement signed with the previous Administration, we believe that lowering the tolls is in the national interest.” Regions five and six are slated to benefit most from this reduction.
The government is moving the toll from $2,200 for passenger cars and buses to $1,900 while the toll for other types of vehicles have been reduced to 10percent. On August 12, the Minister met a four-man team from the Bridge Company led by its Chairman Ravie Ramcharitar.
The government has put their intention to reduce the bridge toll and compensate the company into writing as requested. The government expects with the current traffic flow, they will lose some $120 to $140 million as a result of the reduction.