Court ruling on Gov’t takeover of Berbice Bridge postponed


Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire has postponed her ruling in the case between the Berbice Bridge Company, the Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson and Attorney General, Senior Counsel Basil Williams.

The matter was set for ruling Monday but was postponed until December 18, 2019.

Attorney for the Berbice Bridge Company Incorporated, (BBCI), Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran told reporters in the corridors of the High Court that the Chief Justice wanted further clarity on a few issues.

“The matter was called a few minutes ago and the Chief Justice had wanted some issues clarified. The matter was fixed for decision today but the last occasion the Chief Justice had wanted some issues clarified and they were clarified this morning,” Ramkarran noted.

Ramkarran during a brief explanation said the issues for clarity were “some letters, some documents that were not immediately available to her so we had to file an affidavit submitting the documents.”

The Berbice Bridge Company Incorporated (BBCI) wants the High Court to reverse the Government’s takeover of the operations of the bridge.

The company wants to regain control of the bridge and implement the increased toll charges – the same increases the Government saw as draconian when it seized control back in November 2018.

On November 5, 2018, Patterson issued an order declaring that the Government will take over the maintenance and operation of the Berbice River Bridge “hopefully” for a temporary period.

According to section 11 of the Berbice Bridge Act, “A function exercisable by the Concessionaire may be exercised by the Government -in the event of a national emergency declared by the President; or if the Minister determines that its exercise is necessary or expedient in the interests of public.”

This power can also be exercised if the Concessionaire has defaulted in the performance of its obligations under the Concession Agreement.

In court documents, the Bridge Company argued that Section 15 of the Judicial Review Act make provision for the Minister to supply a statement giving the reasons for the decision, based on evidence found and facts.

According to the court papers, the bridge company said it wrote the Minister on November 6, 2018, asking for details but he failed to provide the response.

The BBCI, therefore, filed legal proceedings against the Government in the High Court, and served notice on the Minister of Public Infrastructure and the Attorney General, the first and second-named defendants, respectively, for a statement outlining the decision for the takeover of the maintenance and operation of the Berbice River Bridge.

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