first_imgGovernment 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.last_img read more