Nov 21, 2008 News
While the access roads may not be completed for its opening to traffic, the Berbice River Bridge will be opened to the public on December 23.
With only one span left to be completed, the bridge will only be open to light transport vehicles, such as taxis and minibuses.
Speaking to the media during a press briefing on the newly constructed bridge early yesterday morning, Chairperson of the Berbice River Bridge, Geeta Singh-Knights, said that they have been given assurances that the road will be prepared to facilitate vehicular traffic by the opening date. “They have assured us that there will be a surface that would allow vehicular (traffic),” she said.
Addressing the issue of toll structure, Singh-Knights said that this has been worked out already, and will be sent to Government today, or early next week, for approval.
“I can assure that this toll structure that we have worked out is ranging between five and 10 percent increase on the existing ferry toll structure for the different categories.”
Tolls have been worked out for marine traffic also. Singh-Knights said that they are expecting a response from Government on the fare structure within two weeks.
Those rates will be made available to the public by mid-December, she added. Despite being opened to the public, the formal opening of the bridge will not be held until next January.
The retraction span of the bridge is 70 metres wide, while the depth of the channel of the river for vessels is four metres at low tide. Vessels will have to notify the bridge officials at least 24 hours in advance to pass through the bridge.
During a tour of the facility, hosted by the Berbice Bridge Company Inc., it was observed that a number of infrastructural works are yet to be completed.
The toll booths at the bridge are currently under construction and are expected to be completed in about a week’s time, Singh-Knights said. The administrative building is also under construction.
According to the company’s chairperson, only the bottom flat of this building will be completed for the official opening in January.
Landscape works and fencing are yet to be done. On the western side of the bridge, there are substantial works to be done.
As the tour was being conducted yesterday, contractors were busy at work to complete the approach road in time for the opening.
Head of the Privatization Unit, Winston Brassington, who was also a part of the tour, told Kaieteur News that all persons whose land had to be used for the project have already been compensated.
After construction, the BBCI will operate the bridge on a toll basis, using a formula that will secure sufficient revenue to cover all operating and maintenance costs, provide a return on the investment, and make repayment of financing. The intention is that the bridge will be handed over to Government in about 21 years, Singh-Knights said.
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