Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Guyana, December 16, 2016
Since its inception, the Demerara Harbour Bridge has served as a crucial link between our East and West Banks of Demerara. For thousands of Guyanese, the Harbour Bridge is a daily fixture, serving as the main access point for work, school, and commercial activity. Over the years, the traffic on the Demerara Harbour Bridge has significantly increased, particularly among certain types of vehicles such as private cars, minibuses, and motor lorries. In January 2009, for example, there were approximately 74,000 trips made by private cars. In January 2010, this number rose to 86,338 and, by August of this year, there were approximately 163,000 trips made by private cars.
Minister Ferguson and DHBC General Manager, Rawlston Adams, during today’s press briefing.
For minibuses, the figure stood at 39,000 in January 2010. In July 2016, the figure was 44,000 for minibuses.
Meanwhile, motor lorries with 2 axles moved from 10,000 trips in January 2010 to 12,000 trips in August 2016.
Outside of these vehicle types, there has generally been an increase in the Bridge’s traffic. Increased traffic means increased congestion; increased damage and wear and tear; and, ultimately, increased expenditure to conduct repair works.
From 2008 through 2016, DHBC made an average income of $489M each year from 2008 to 2016. For the same period, the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation expended an average of $910M each year across both its current and capital expenditures.
Without these annual subventions, DHBC would be operating at a drastic shortfall and would be unable to sustain its capital projects.
This is where the toll increases come in.
Effective from January 1, 2017, the Demerara Harbour Bridge will implement a new toll structure for most of the vehicular classifications:
Motor car (private)
Motor car (hire)
4WD jeeps/SUV/Pick-up (private)
Goods vehicle up to 2,200lbs (1,000kg)
Goods vehicle 2,201-4,400lbs (1,001kg-2,000kg)
Goods vehicle 4,401-6,600lbs (2,001kg-3,000kg)
Motor lorry (2-axles)
Motor lorry (3-axles)/Large bus
It must be noted that there was no increase in toll for minibuses. There was no increase for this classification of vehicle since, more often than not, the pressures are transferred to the members of the public when bus operators experience any increase in expenditure. Schoolchildren, the elderly, and those in difficult financial situations were considered when the decision was made to not increase the toll for minibuses.
Additionally, in 2008, there would have been toll increases for two classifications; for private cars, the toll rose from $50 to $100 while for private four-wheel drives, the toll moved from $50 to $200. However, the tolls for the other classifications remained unchanged.
Meanwhile, based on current traffic trends, it is projected that the DHBC will make $550M at the end of 2016 with the current toll structure in place while its expenditure – both current and capital – will stand at a projected $600M.
On the other hand, the projected revenue for 2017 – with the new toll structure in place and based on the same amount of traffic – would lead to an income of $861M.
The significant increase in income is important for two reasons: not only would DHBC have more funds to dedicate towards its operations, but the need for Government subvention would be negated. In other words, the Corporation would be totally self-reliant.
Some persons might question why the Corporation should stop receiving Government subvention. After all, it is the taxpayers’ monies and DHBC provides a service to the taxpayers. However, we must consider that not every taxpayer is a user of the Demerara Harbour Bridge. It is necessary, therefore, to transfer this responsibility from the Government and to allow our taxpayers’ monies to go towards other sectors such as education and health. The toll increases allow for this.
As I noted at the beginning, things are just not the same. More persons are now able to afford vehicles and businesses, now more than ever, are using the Bridge to transport their goods and services. Our world is developing and with development comes increased traffic each year, which makes it even more expensive to maintain the operations of the Harbour Bridge. It is therefore necessary that the toll structure reflects the development we see in our society.
During today’s press conference, DHBC General Manager, Mr. Rawlston Adams, also raised the following points:
In regards to marine traffic, he indicated that trawlers are currently charged $15,000 while the larger ocean-going vessels are charged $50,000.
There is a restriction of four vessels per day on the number of marine vessels. This is due to the large amount of vehicular traffic and to need to ease congestion on the bridge.
Over the years, operational costs have significantly increased. Meanwhile, Government subvention covers capital costs. Therefore, operational costs must still be covered by DHBC. The projected increase in income will allow DHBC to better cover these rising costs.
While the increases, when described as percentages, sound high, the actual figures must be taken into account, Mr. Adams said. He further indicated that other factors, such as the fact that the tolls have not been increased for many categories for decades and the cost of tolls around the world, must be taken into account.