Toll reprieve

Some motorists to pay cheaper rates on North-South Highway

Thursday, September 07, 2017

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SOME motorists using the north-south leg of Highway 2000 have been granted a break on the proposed toll rates that were scheduled to increase on Saturday.

A release from the Ministry of Transport yesterday advised that on Tuesday the board of management of the parent company for the operators, Jamaica North South Highway Company (JNSHC) — China Communications Construction Company — had agreed to withhold the increase for the rest of this year.

But while some rates will be rounded down to the nearest $50 or $100, others will be rounded up in the same amounts.

“This means that some motorists will pay less. For example, motorists using the Caymanas to Angels leg were faced with an increase when the figures were last rounded, due to a coin shortage. However, this time around those motorists will actually pay less,” the ministry stated.

Under the agreement with the Government of Jamaica, the developers can demand increases of between 16 and 18 per cent at this time. An advisory from the JNSHC said, however, that it has considered the economic challenges facing Jamaicans and decided to give the discounted rates between September 14 and December 31.

According to the ministry, Minister Mike Henry had pointed out in his negotiations with the operators that the proposed increases would not have “found favour” with many motorists, and that “the risk of losing customers would be one squarely on the shoulders of the operators”.

The operators stressed that the two factors influencing toll increases are United States inflation rates and the devaluation of the Jamaican dollar, noting that “we too are challenged by the current economic climate in Jamaica” as the costs to maintain the highway at an international standard continues to increase.

Last year the operators decided to forego increases after removing a 25 per cent discount which the Government negotiated with its parent company in March, in the wake of public outcry over the rates that were introduced when the highway was opened.

This year, the JNSHC made a submission to the ministry for toll rate increases of between 14 and 31 per cent. Under that proposal, class one vehicles from Caymanas to Mammee Bay would face a 17 per cent increase; class two vehicles, 17 per cent; class three, 16 per cent; and class four, 19 per cent. The average percentage adjustment proposed would be 17.6 per cent, while the highest percentage adjustment was 31 per cent for class four vehicles travelling from Caymanas to Angels.

Henry wrote to the operators requesting a meeting to begin dialogue, but pointed out that the operators were within their rights to seek the level of increases outlined in their application.

The current rates range from $80 to $3,700 between Caymanas in St Catherine and Mammee Bay in St Ann.




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