Government is still vigorously pursuing its option to buy out the 10 per cent of shares held by the DemeraraThe Berbice River BridgeDistillers Limited (DDL) in the Berbice Bridge Company Inc (BBCI) in order to ensure sustainability and perhaps to facilitate a further reduction in the tolls.Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson said Government remained committed to providing significant financial relief for those persons traversing the Berbice Bridge and, in order to guarantee low fares, Government would have to gain majority control of the Company.He said Government was exploring different options, apart from State subsidies, to ensure the fares remained reduced.“The Government had attempted certain things so far. We are currently trying to buy the shares from DDL and obviously with that, we can look at different mechanisms,” he stated during a recent news conference.Last year, Government announced that the beverage giant had offered to sell off its shares in the BBCI for some $45 million. Government had also hoped to engage with the other stakeholders about selling their shares in order to influence the decision to reduce the bridge tolls since the Bridge Company was initially refusing to lower them.But after intense negotiations, Government finally brokered an agreement with the Company to reduce the tolls, which took effect this year.The toll on passenger cars and minibuses was reduced from $2200 to $1900, while there was a 10 per cent reduction for the other classes of vehicles.Government is also providing subsidies to the river taxis, which were introduced after the BBCI maintained that it was not reducing its tolls.The river taxis were meant to be a more affordable alternative to the Bridge, but with the reduction of the bridge tolls, the two facilities began competing with each other.Minibus operators began complaining of loss of business since commuters opted to use the river taxis rather than cross the River via the bridge.The Public Infrastructure Ministry developed a revised schedule for the operations of the river taxis to facilitate the minibus operations.From September 1, the speedboat service began operating from 06:00h until 09:00h and then again from 14:30h until 18:00h. Previously, the service operated between 06:00h and 18:00h.But with the time change, the taxi drivers are complaining that the new operating hours would severely affect their trade since they would limit the number of passengers who utilise their services after disembarking the boats.Junior Public Infrastructure Minister Annette Ferguson had pledged to meet with the operators to iron out the issue.
To adequately manage primary, secondary and feeder roads in the country would require US$100 million every year, for the next 20 years, Public Works Minister, William Gyude Moore has said.Minister Moore made the assertion yesterday at the Ministry of Information’s regular press briefing in Monrovia.He said the US$27 million provided by the government in this year’s budget for construction and pavement of roads is “very little, considering the huge challenges facing many roads in the country.”He said US$4 million within the US$27 million of this year’s budget is for road maintenance, while the balance US$23 million is intended for road construction.Minister Moore said since the inception of Madam Sirleaf’s administration, the government has focused largely on primary and secondary roads throughout the country, while partners continue to handle most of the feeder roads.“We may get involved in taking care of feeder roads, but for the next four years, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will be financing many of its projects to ensure that communities and neighborhoods are connected,” Minister Moore said.He added, “450KM of feeder roads will be financed by USAID while we will be extending that program to the south east of the country to ensure that since our partners are active on feeder roads, we can focus on primary and secondary roads.”He said the government will continue to invest in primary and secondary roads to ensure that county capitals and major roads are fully connected across the country.Minister Moore explained further that the government and its partners have spent a little over US$700 million on roads, but their maintenance remain a cardinal issue, considering the heavy rainy season in the country.In a related development, the Minister also disclosed that Caldwell Bridge has been completed and plans for its official dedication are in process.He said Liberia’s road network is about 10,000km and many of the people in the rural areas have to walk several hours before reaching to the nearest road.“We have a very limited road network and less than 10 percent is paved. We are talking about paving the remaining 700km of roads including all major streets in the country,” he said.The ministry is focusing on paving streets in all county capitals at a cost amounting to US$2.2 billion.Primary roads connect to city capitals or lead to international borders while secondary roads connect to primary roads and feeder roads connect with farm-to-market roads, homes and other places.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)