The decision by the Government to take control of the operations of the Berbice bridge was lawful, according to acting Chief Justice Roxanne George.
The Chief Justice handed down her decision this morning in the case that was taken to the Court by the Berbice Bridge company.
The company wanted the Court to declare that the move was illegal, but the Chief Justice instead ruled that the government’s decision was legal and in keeping with the Berbice River Bridge Act.
It was back in November 2018 that the Government of Guyana announced its move to take control of the Berbice River Bridge in the interest of public safety.
The government cited poor maintenance of the pontoons as one of the reasons behind its decision. The decision also came at a time when the Bridge company was getting ready to increase the tolls to cross the bridge by more than 300%.
During the Court proceedings, the Chief Justice agreed with submissions by Government.
In its submissions, the Government argued that it took control of the bridge as it served as a vital link between two counties and that the new tolls were burdensome and would result in citizens using alternative means to cross the Berbice River which may result in in the loss of lives.
As such, in accordance with the Berbice River Bridge Act, the Chief Justice ruled that the Minister is charged with setting the maximum amount of tolls that can be charged, and that the Bridge Company off its own, cannot institute new tolls.
The Chief Justice also noted that the Bridge Company has to consult with the Minister before doing so as this is the procedure stipulated in the Berbice River Bridge Act.
She said there was no basis therefore upon which the Court could intervene in the Minister’s decision. She dismissed the action filed by the Berbice Bridge Company and ordered that it pays costs to the tune of $50,000.