Monday, September 7, 2009

Berbice River Bridge has no provision for cyclists and pedestrians

For the bridge to be truly viable, the Berbice economy must be transformed

Posted By Stabroek staff On September 7, 2009 @ 5:05 am In Letters | No Comments

Dear Editor,

I refer to Peter Ramsaroop’s column concerning the Berbice Bridge in SN, 25 August – 2009/features/08/25/transportation-cost-%E2%80%93-hurting-our-children%E2%80%99s-future. It is indeed a heart-rending situation. Editor, can you imagine there is no provision for cyclists and pedestrians?

It is evident the construction of the bridge was not an economic venture beneficial to the community, but a political venture with dire economic consequences. Clearly there is an inability in this present PPP Government to be responsible for credible, productive, and cost efficient planning. In this case in particular, it adds unnecessary stress to the daily survival struggle of the poor.

Our AFC Parliamentarians argued strenuously against not making provisions for cyclists and pedestrians – this was of course ignored. The end result is that the bridge cannot be used by the average person regularly, and as such has become an inconvenience to the very communities it was supposed to serve. We unequivocally support the bridging of the Berbice River; however our support for this principle should not allow the government to impose additional burdens on our citizens.

Further, for the Bridge to be truly viable, the Berbice economy must undergo positive transformation (as expounded by Dr. Tarron Khemraj). An upsurge in economic activities will lead to increasing returns allowing for a more affordable situation for all. You cannot just plant a bridge, and say “Here, we have kept our promise” and be done with it.

The AFC’s Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan held community meetings regarding the initial obscene fare structure, and in February this year submitted a petition with over 4,000 signatures to the President and Government of Guyana. This petition called for reliefs from the adverse effects of the high rates of tolls and the closure to vehicular traffic over the ferry at Rosignol/New Amsterdam. It was done on behalf of the children, the disabled and pensioners who had to pay $300 more per day in travel costs, and vehicle owners who were faced with increases starting at $2,200.

Editor, reductions were implemented shortly thereafter when the Berbice Chambers of Commerce met with members of the Berbice Bridge Company Inc (BBCI). The AFC’s role in this must not be lost on those critics who say we are only talk.

However, the situation still remains untenable overall and we, the AFC, are therefore calling, with immediate effect, for:

1. Another downward review of the fare structure.

2. A shuttle vehicle from road-head to road-head, to accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists, travelling at economically viable intervals.

3. Affordable monthly passes (not exceeding $500.00) to be issued to students for use on the shuttle, with this amount being reduced for parents with more than one child crossing the bridge.

4. Resume the pre-Bridge regular ferry service between Rosignol and New Amsterdam, including it being open to vehicles of all classes.

The shuttle can be a Canter type vehicle with a layout in the tray similar to a launch so that it can accommodate both passengers and cyclists. A successful implementation can stimulate small economic activities at both ends including hire-cars, similar to what obtained at the stellings.

Yours faithfully,
Gerhard Ramsaroop

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