The Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson Thursday afternoon declared that he will only meet with the Berbice Bridge company to discuss maintenance and repairs to the Berbice bridge and not the sale of the bridge to the government.
Patterson claimed that the Berbice Bridge Company Inc. (BBCI), has refused to allow the Government to carry out repairs to the pontoons that support the bridge, warning of the implications.
“The good citizens of Regions 5 & 6 should be aware that the pontoons supporting this bridge have been in the river since at least 2008 – eleven (11) years without maintenance when the recommended maintenance period is every three (3) years,” Patterson said in a post on his Facebook page.
Patterson claimed that the Government made $120 million available to repair at least six of the pontoons, but that the company has “refused to allow” the Government to proceed.
On August 24, the BBCI in a statement pointed out that in an August 17 interview on NCN, Patterson claimed that the Government had offered to purchase the bridge.
“While the BBCI has no record of such an offer, BBCI has, as a result, of the Minister’s statement, written to the Minister requesting a meeting to discuss the Government’s offer,” the BBCI noted in a statement to the media.
But Patterson said he would not meet with the company to discuss the sale of the bridge.
“I am willing to meet at any time to further discuss the maintenance and repairs of this bridge ONLY, the legal case is being handled by the Attorney General’s Chamber, while financial matters remain under the domain of the Ministry of Finance,” he stated.
Patterson said 39 pontoons support the floating bridge, and that if six are repaired per year, it would take almost seven years to repair all the pontoons.
“Yes, there is a possibility of some pontoons being in the river for eighteen (18) years without repairs,” Patterson stated.
Reflecting on the recent accident which shut down the Demerara Harbour Bridge for more than 24 hours, he warned of what can result if a main artery such as a bridge linking two regions becomes inaccessible.
He said that the BBCI is yet to even present an emergency plan in the case of an accident.
“It is correct that I have declined to meet with this company to discuss ‘a possible sale’ since our priorities are very different,” Patterson stated.