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WICKEDNESS: Motorists fume as toll rate hike takes effect

Published:Sunday | July 5, 2015 | 7:00 AMRyon Jones
A motorist faced with the new rate at the toll booth on the Portmore leg of Highway 2000 yesterday.
Motorists in lines as the approach the toll booth on the Portmore leg of Highway 2000 yesterday morning.
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'Wicked' was the word of choice for many motorists using the Portmore leg of Highway 2000 yesterday as they reacted to the new toll fees which came into effect.

Despite several advertise-ments in the print and electronic media about the new rates over the past two weeks, several motorists turned up at the toll booth surprised that they would have to pay between $10 and $30 more to use the highway.

"A just a while a go mi find out," said one driver heading from Kingston to Portmore.

"It wicked and it a go affect we nuff, because a did $170 and now dem put on $10 on it," said Webster Campbell.

"Every day is a different thing. A Portmore wi live, enuh. Mi go market since morning and mi a go back a town now, and a [because] mi late why mi nuh drive 'round," added Campbell.

When the Portmore leg of Highway 2000 was officially opened on July 15, 2006, it then cost $60 for Class One vehicles, $100 for Class Two, and $200 for Class Three.

Effective yesterday, motorists started paying $180 for Class One vehicles, up from $170; while for SUVs, Class Two vehicles, the new rate is $290, up from $260. It now costs $550, up from $520, for buses and trucks, Class Three vehicles.

'IT ADDS UP'

"It is really hard on us. The increase might not seem much but it adds up," one motorist, who gave her name as 'Sharon', told The Sunday Gleaner.

"Also, I think enough people are driving on the toll to prevent a yearly increase," added Sharon, who lives in Portmore but works and attends church in Kingston.

She said going forward, she would avoid taking the toll road when possible.

But not all commuters were prepared to use the longer route of the Mandela Highway.

"I just don't have any choice, because if mi drive so (Mandela Highway) police a go waste mi time because them a go stop mi and a more gas," said Wayne Henry, who drives a Class Two vehicle.

Joseph Smith, who rides his motorcycle (Class One) from Kingston to the fishing village in Portmore via the highway each day, agreed that it would not be smart to drive on the Mandela Highway despite the toll increase.

"I have to take this way: I can't take the long journey, because anything can happen on the bike, and a way a Kingston mi live, so mi just tek the toll," said Smith. "But it wicked still, and it going to cut into my profit."

Several motorists argued that the standard of service at the toll plaza should have been improved before any rate increase.

"Personally, it unfair and wicked," said Smith. "Look on all today, a Saturday, them fi have more people a work; them a inconvenience we. Them not providing a good service and want more raise."

More motorists grudgingly accepted the increase as they argued that there are more pros than cons to using the toll road.

"I don't have any problem with it," said Derrick Mills, who uses the toll road four days per week. "It is less wear and tear on your vehicle, better road, and if you go 'round the longer way, [it would be] more gas."

ryon.jones@gleanerjm.com