…as Govt announces toll hikeJunior Public Infrastructure Minister Annette Ferguson on Wednesday disclosed that Demerara Harbour Bridge tolls would be increased from next year, a move the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has condemned, calling for its withdrawal.PPP/C MP Irfaan AliJunior Public Infrastructure Minister Annette FergusonThe issue rose in the Committee of Supply during the consideration of the 2017 Estimates for the Public Infrastructure Ministry when Opposition Member of Parliament Komal Chand enquired whether the Demerara Harbour Bridge would be self-financing, since the subsidy has been reduced from $150 million last year to a mere $2 million this year. In response, Minister Ferguson revealed the intention to hike the tolls. She further disclosed the new fees, and the increases ranged from 50 to 200 per cent.The tolls will increase as follows: motorcycles – from $20 to $40; motor cars – from $100 to $200; motor cars (hire) – from $100 to $200; motor tractors – from $200 to $300; one-axle trailers – from $200 to $300; hearses – from $100 to $300; motor lorries (class 1) – from $500 to $700; motor lorries (class 3) – from $600 to $700; goods vehicles (up to 2200 pounds) – from $100 to $400, and goods vehicles (up to 4400 pounds) – from $200 to $400.However, there will be no increases for four-wheel drive jeeps and minibuses, which are currently tolled at $200 as well as for vehicles with double-axle trailers, which cost $300 to cross the bridge.The Demerara harbour BridgeAsked by PPP/C parliamentarian Juan Edghill when the announcement of the toll hikes would have been made since nothing had been said to date, the Junior Minister said that the public would have been informed later this week. The increases will take effect from January 1, 2017.The Opposition has kicked up a storm on these increases, which it called “another broadside from the Government” even as the Guyanese populace was overcoming the “shock and horror” of the 2017 Budget.“The Office of the Leader of the Opposition views the astronomical increases in the tolls to cross the Demerara Harbour Bridge as most cruel, crass and insensitive. This measure will add to the nearly 200-odd measures, which have been imposed upon the backs of the Guyanese people in the year 2016,” a statement on Wednesday evening detailed.The release went on to outline that this increase would no doubt multiply the hardships and sufferings, which the Guyanese population would have to endure in 2017 and beyond. It further stated that the manner in which the Government concealed this measure from the public was equally reprehensible, as it noted that the information was reluctantly disclosed only after intense scrutiny and questioning by the Opposition Party’s MPs.“We call upon the Government to immediately rescind these proposed increases in tolls for the Demerara Harbour Bridge and we say to the Government, that you have taxed the people of Guyana enough for the year,” the parliamentary Opposition declared.PPP/C Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) representative Irfaan Ali also issued a statement on the “covert decision” to increase the tolls, saying that such a move would negatively affect the Region’s economy and result in additional hardships for its residents.“It is also my view that these increases will adversely affect businesses in the Region which are already struggling to survive given the Government’s mismanagement of the economy… This move by the Government is harsh, spiteful and repressive. It also presents a new wave of “jumbie economics” which is being practised by a very secretive and corrupt coalition Government,” Ali remarked.He further called on the Administration to abandon plans to increase the Demerara Harbour Bridge tolls.