Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire yesterday instructed lawyers in the court action against Government’s takeover of the Berbice Bridge to lay over written submissions by September 13. The matter comes up for a report hearing on October 8.
Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran is appearing for the Berbice Bridge Company Inc. (BBCI), while the Attorney General’s chamber is representing Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, who is listed as the Respondent.
Last November, the Berbice Bridge Company Incorporated (BBCI) moved to the High Court asking for the reversal of the decision of government to takeover maintenance and operation of the Berbice River Bridge.
In its application, the BBCI had noted that Section 15 of the Judicial Review Act provides as follow: “It is the duty of any person or body making administrative decisions, if requested in accordance with this section by any person adversely affected by the decision, to supply that person with a statement setting out the findings on material questions of facts, referring to the evidence or other material on which those findings were based and giving the reasons for the decision.”
Amid a 360% increase in tolls, which was demanded by the BBCI, the Government on November 5, last, announced that it was taking temporary control of the bridge in the safety of the public.
According to court documents filed by the BBCI, on November 1, Minister Patterson caused to be issued and advertised in the Official Gazette the Berbice River Bridge (Public Safety) Toll Order 2018 No. 42 of 2018, made under Section 11(b) (i) of the Berbice River Bridge Act Cap 51:06 ordering that the functions of the concessionaire, (BBCI), to maintain and operate the Bridge shall be exercised by Government.
The Official Gazette also said that having determined that the exercise of those functions by the Government is necessary and expedient in the interests of the public, the Minister specifies by notice on the cessation of the threat to public safety.
It also said that the tolls will be levied and collected and any exemptions shall be the same as those levied, collected and exempted immediately before the coming into operation of the said order.
According to the bridge company, by a Concession Agreement dated June 12, 2006, entered into between the Ministry of Public Works and Communications, on behalf of the Government of Guyana and the company, it is made clear that BBCI shall be obliged at its own expense to operate and maintain the Toll Bridge.
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