Small vendors, other Berbicians fear ‘sudden destruction’ if new bridge toll goes ahead
The intended increase in tolls for use of the Berbice River bridge has left hire car, minibus operators and small vendors who depend on the bridge traffic nervous about their future.
“I do a daily sale here; these drivers support me,” said Brandis Joseph, who operates a confectionary basis on the eastern end of the bridge at Palymyra.
“This here will cause a sudden destruction because these drivers won’t afford to go to Georgetown as per normal. And when they going to raise the fare people would not afford it,” she declared.
Some transportation operators said they were “furious” about the proposed increases, arguing that it will not be feasible to continue the work as customers will not be able to afford it since it will push them to increase their fares.
Currently, minibus and cars pay $1900 per crossing; the Berbice Bridge company has proposed a new toll of $8040. The Minister of Public Infrastructure has vowed that the increases will not be approved, and the Government was seeking legal advice.
Hire Car driver, Steve Harlequin is hoping the Berbice Bridge company can reverse the decision since it will have a negative impact not only on drivers but the Berbice economy.
“This will affect a lot of drivers because we depend on this for a daily livelihood.
“This here(increase) can’t happen because how will we survive?’ Harlequin asked.
“That is not easy money. This will cause people especially Berbicians to fall into more pressure,” Brandis Joseph, added.
Another hire care operator, Imran Khadaar, anticipates a negative impact on the transportation sector in Berbice.
He explained the move will have a trickledown effect on everyone as it could even cause Berbicians to restrict their travel to the capital city for recreation.
For Jamal Emanuel, the situation will only get harder for him as on a daily basis he struggles to make enough to take home for his family.
“For the $1900, it still hard. They should not look to increase it, instead look to drop it”.
A 52-year-old female minibus operator also weighed in on the proposed increase. She noted if the company goes ahead with the increase on November 12, many operators will feel the squeeze and if passengers refuse to pay they will ultimately work at a loss.
“It’s rough and tough”, she lamented.
Presently customers using a motorcar pay $1500 from New Amsterdam/Palmyra to Georgetown, with fares higher depending on how far on the Corentryne Coast they are from.