– Court sets December 18 for ruling
Chief Justice Roxane George has set December 18 for ruling in the case of the State versus the Berbice Bridge Company Inc. On that date, at 10:00 am the Court will rule on the legitimacy of the actions of the government and whether it has the right to intervene and seize control of the Berbice Bridge.
The Government, through subject Minister David Patterson, has since defended its position, citing the imposition of heavy prices, which
was likely to hinder and adversely affect those who depend on the river bridge crossing, particularly residents of Region five and six.
In defence, the Minister held among other things that his decision is rooted and based on reasonable cause. The Court had previously ordered the Minister to supply the Claimant, the Berbice Bridge Company Incorporated, (BBCI) with reasons for the decision to take over the bridge.
Additionally, Minister Patterson and his legal team were ordered to file Witness Statements. The Claimant, BBCI, moved to the High Court asking for the reversal of the decision of government to take over 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 follows: “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 had announced that it was taking temporary control of the bridge in the safety of the public.
According to court documents filed by the BBCI, Minister Patterson caused to be issued and advertised in the Official G
azette 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 interest 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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