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BBCI complies with order

…but wants ‘legal evidence’ to support ministerial order
November 7th, 2018 | Tags:
The Berbice River Bridge. Photo: Guyana Chronicle
Guyana Chronicle

BERBICE, Guyana, SA – The Berbice Bridge Company Inc. (BBCI) said it has no alternative but to comply with the Order issued by Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson to put the company under the supervision of the government and to prohibiting the entity from implementing the Toll Order Adjustment announced on 16th October, 2018.”

However, the company wants the government to provide legal evidence to support its decision to temporarily supervise the bridge operations– a decision which has thwarted attempts to raise tolls by close to 400 percent.

Legal Challenge

The bridge company said subsequent to receiving a response from the minister, it will make its next move which does not rule out a “legal challenge” against the government.

On Monday, Patterson announced the government’s decision to supervise the bridge, stating that it is in keeping with Sections 4 (1) and 11 of the Berbice River Bridge Act. His decision was backed by an Order cited as the Berbice River Bridge (Public Safety) Toll Order 2018, which was gazetted on November 1, 2018.

Berbice River Bridge (Public Safety) Toll Order 2018, which was gazetted on November 1, 2018.

It meant that effective immediately, the functions of the concessionaire (BBCI) to maintain and operate the bridge would be exercised by the Government of Guyana until a date specified by the minister.

Patterson had clarified that there would be no toll increase; no change to the BBCI’s operational structure; no changes to its board and that no staffing complement, contractors or suppliers would be affected during the temporary arrangement.

When the news broke, several residents of the East Berbice-Corentyne region expressed their appreciation and relief that the set deadline for the increase, November 12, 2018, would not come to fruition.

Unlawful

However, just one day after the announcement, the BBCI in a press release dated November 6, 2018, deemed the Toll Order signed by Patterson as “unlawful.”

“The Berbice Bridge Company Inc. considers, based on legal advice, that the Order is unlawful and ultra-virus [sic] under Section 11of the Berbice River Bridge Act on which it is based,” the release stated.

In addition, the BBCI corresponded with Patterson citing Section 15 of the Judicial Review Act and requesting that he supply the company with “facts and reasons” upon which the Order is based.

In the letter similarly dated November 6, 2018, the company, represented by its Corporate Secretary Stephen Rambajan, addressed the minister, stating: “Pursuant to Section 15 of the Judicial Review Act, I write to request, that as a body affected by the Order, that you supply BBCI with a statement setting out the findings on material questions of fact, referring to the evidence or other material on which those findings were based and giving the reasons for the decision.”

Attached to the request was a 14-day deadline by which the bridge company stated that it looks forward to a response. Further, in its release to the media, the BBCI corresponded: “Subject to the minister’s response, the BBCI will consider its options which do not exclude a legal challenge to the Order.”

The proposed increase announced by the company are: cars: G$8,040; pickups: G$14,600; 4WD: G$14,600; minibuses: G$8,040; small trucks: G$14,600; medium-sized trucks: G$27,720; large trucks: G$49,600; articulated trucks: G$116,680; freight: G$1,680 and boats: G$401,040. The government on numerous occasions has maintained its ‘no tolerance’ for the increase, stating that such an action would significantly impact the cost of living and goods and services in the region.

 

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