Portmore toll road pain
Residents complain bitterly about traffic congestionSunday, March 07, 2021
BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT
Portmore residents who commute via the Portmore Toll Road are fuming over the many lengthy traffic delays they have been facing for several weeks.
Two residents who spoke to the Jamaica Observer on condition of anonymity said that they expect delays, but the congestion is at critical levels on a road built to achieve seamless commute.
“For weeks now there has been lengthy delays on the Portmore Toll. Sometimes it's only two booths that are opened so traffic is backed up going all the way back sometimes as far as Mall,” the resident said.
“It's rough in the mornings. The traffic is at a standstill coming from Mall going to the toll booth. You're literally creeping,” another resident said.
The Sunday Observer understands that as a result, some motorists have resorted to turning back on the one way or breaking through barriers to escape the lengthy delays.
Lerone Laing, CEO of the Toll Authority of Jamaica (TAJ), said he is aware of the situation but clarified that while his organisation is not directly in charge of the toll booth operations, the TAJ regulates and supervises the entire tolling industry.
Moreover, he said the team at TAJ has met with the Trans Jamaica Highway Group, which operates the Portmore leg of the toll and are working to iron out some of the issues to improve the traffic congestion.
“One of the challenges they would have cited is attendance with respect to the COVID-19 situation that they are handling that has led to some absentees. That's one issue they would have cited, however, we impressed upon them the importance of the smooth transition of traffic to and from, especially that thoroughfare of Portmore,” Laing said.
Further, with respect to the reports of lawlessness from some motorists on the toll, Laing said the Toll Road Act speaks to violations on the toll road, which are prosecutable by law. He encouraged motorists to adhere to the rules and to also make use of the E-tag service which offers a more seamless movement on the toll road.
“We're encouraging persons to make use of the E-tag being offered by the operator, both operators — the Jamaica North South Highway Company as well as Trans Jamaica Highway — they offer electronic tags where you don't have to interface especially in this time of COVID, [where] we're trying to limit interaction.
“You don't have to pay someone physically. You top up your card and use the E-pass lane. On the Portmore leg there are at least four such lanes that are there, but they are very empty most of the time and it is the paid lanes that are full,” Laing said.
He added: “We're encouraging motorists to use that option as it is safer, much more efficient and saves a lot of time and effort on your part as a motorist. That's what we're encouraging now, and, of course, the law is there for those who violate the rules of the toll road. But, a lot of the problems would be eased if persons signed up and used the E-tag.”
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