…urges Minister to meet with shareholdersAs the controversy surrounding the rise in the Berbice River Bridge tolls continues, Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Juan Edghill has now come forward stating that responsibility for this issue lies at the feet of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government.Edghill, who is the shadow Public Infrastructure Minister in the National Assembly, said the issue is one that has been blown out of proportion, even though it could be simply resolved. He feels it was deliberately brought about to sway votes at the upcoming Local Government Elections.“This Government can be accused and rightfully so, of seeking to create an environment of instability and to agitate in the Berbice region, as a way of getting some particular outcome around the Local Government Elections period,” he claimed.Edghill further stated that the grandstanding taking place between Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson and the Berbice Bridge Company IncOpposition MP Juan Edghill(BBCI) is what he described as a “manufactured controversy.”“This is a plot that is hatched, developed and executed by the APNU/AFC Government and they are using their people on social media to see if they can blame the [People’s Progressive Party] PPP for it. But the only thing about PPP in that bridge is the Private Public Partnership.”The Opposition MP also questioned, “Why with such a crisis the Government has not yet sat down with the BBCI and have negotiations? Are they waiting for problems like the teachers having to go on strike and then the President comes in and be the big Godfather?”However, the point was made again that the Minister is fully aware that in order for the tolls for the Berbice River Bridge to increase, he has to sign the toll order. “Why is he pussyfooting and creating concern in the minds of the Guyanese, particularly the Berbicians…praying on their emotions?”The MP is convinced that Government’s involvement in this situation is transparent, especially given the fact that the chair of the BBCI who also happens to be the head of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), Dr Surendra Singh is a supporter of the AFC.“Had the People’s progressive Party (PPP) been in Government, I can assure that a solution to take care of the shareholders, to ensure the viability and maintenance of the bridge, ensure that the bridge continues to serve its purpose would have been solved,” he asserted.Edghill feels that the “political game” used to create this issue could be resolved if only, the Minister and Government meet with the BCCI. He said consideration should also be given to having the shares in the company could be purchased and a total buyout is possible.“Stop playing politics, get the BBCI into your boardroom where you could sit andThe Berbice River Bridgetalk and interest of all served and a proper decision can be made,” Edghill said referring to Minister Patterson.The increases were announced by BBCI Chairman, Dr Surendra Persaud, during a press conference recently. According to Persaud, they were formally informed by Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson that Government would not agree to their previous requests for an increase.As per the increases, cars and minibuses will now be charged $8040; pickups, small trucks and four-wheel drive vehicles, $14,600; medium trucks, $27,720; large trucks, $49,600; art trucks, $116,680; freight, $1680 and boats passing through the river will be charged $401,040.Patterson had called a hasty press conference after the news of the increase broke. There, he had informed the press that all options to stop the increases, including legal, will be considered.Since the announcement, several key stakeholders have been calling for Government to buyout the private investors’ shares in the BBCI to bring a permanent resolution to the issue.