The price for crossing the Berbice Bridge is punishing poor people
The Berbice Bridge was considered one of the trump cards for the populace of Berbice and the country as a whole. However, whilst it has undeniably assisted residents in terms of saving them time and sparing them hassles, it has not solved some major problems and has created more heartache for many residents.
Firstly, the price for crossing the Bridge is more than was required to cross with the ferry. How can the price for crossing a bridge be more than crossing with a ferry which has to burn fuel? Money was invested in a project and it was said that the high price was necessary to meet the return on the investment. In a competitive business environment, an investing company would invest based on the likely returns from the investment. We have a situation where the price is ten times more than is being paid to cross the Harbour Bridge and Berbicians have to accept it because there is no other way over the river (unfortunately vehicles cannot swim).
Secondly, the price that has to be paid for crossing the bridge by passengers has made it not worth the while to shop in New Amsterdam any more. The majority of persons would rather go to Georgetown to shop. This cannot be good for the continued development of New Amsterdam.
Schoolchildren are also prevented from going to the better secondary schools in New Amsterdam. The parents of many simply cannot afford the cost and therefore some of the brightest young minds of West Berbice are unable to realize their full potential.
Thirdly, one cannot help but notice that the price set for crossing the bridge was set with the intention of the bridge making profit from its very inception. Whilst that seems like sound business planning, the current situation amounts to nothing more than an abuse of a monopoly. The ferry should have been left operational so that persons would have had a choice as to the method of crossing. It would have been interesting to see the price charged then.
When an investment such as this one is undertaken, the enterprise does not have to make huge profits at the outset. The investment should take into consideration the projected development brought about. The profits should then be made based on large increases in the usage of the bridge over time rather than the price skimming methodology used at the moment.
Fourthly, the NIS because of its payouts on pensions, etc, is dependent on the bridge making profit from the inception. (The NIS has invested in the bridge.) It is strange that the NIS invested in an enterprise which has to charge so much above the normal rate to make profit.
Whilst the bridge has been a wonderful undertaking, it has not benefited the common man in real terms simply because of the price charged to cross. For example, if a person has to travel from West Berbice to work in New Amsterdam, he/she would have to pay $600 per day for crossing the bridge alone (other travelling costs excluded). This would give an idea of what salary those persons would have to earn. Salesgirls/boys, for example, are paid about $ 1200 per day. The price on the ferry was $120.
A thorough review of the price for crossing is required if the (hopefully) planned intentions are to be realized. The price for crossing should not be set based on the required return on the investment; rather the project would be feasible based on whether a price that is reasonable would meet the required return on the investment.