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Another toll hike - Massive rate increase planned for North-South Link

Published:Friday | August 14, 2015 | 8:00 AMDaraine Luton
Motorists traverse the Linstead-Moneague link of the North-South Highway.

The Government has revealed an intention to increase toll rates on the North-South Highway, at the Mount Rosser toll plaza, by as much as 80 per cent.

The massive hike comes just over a month after increases to the toll rates for Highway 2000.

If the planned toll increase is upheld after submissions from the public, it will cost almost twice as much for drivers of motor cars to use each kilometre of the one-year-old Linstead to Moneague leg of the North-South Highway when compared to the East West Highway which stretches from the Mandela Highway in St Catherine to May Pen, Clarendon.

Operators of class-one vehicles, such as cars, will be required to pay $18.94 per kilometre. This is far more than the per-kilometre cost to use the East-West Highway which stretches from Mandela to May Pen, which stands at $10.22.

Transport, Works and Housing Minister Dr Omar Davies on Tuesday approved an increase in the toll rates for the Linstead to Moneague leg of the highway. The new toll structure would see all users of the road paying the maximum fee chargeable.

Class-one vehicles, which attracted a toll of $200 when the road was opened last year, will be required to pay 80 per cent more to use the road. The new toll is $360.

The toll for class-two vehicles moves from $420 to $715, a 70 per cent increase; and class-three rates move up by $75 to $1,075.

It will cost $180 for motor bikes to use the highway, a $10 increase.

Metry Seaga, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association, said yesterday that the toll roads are critical to the business of many of his members.

"Whatever is the justification for the increase, it should be shared with the public. I would ask for the rationale and then assess the impact that it is going to have on our members and then we would have dialogue with the Government," Seaga said.

Toll rates for the North-South Highway were last set in September 2014.

While China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) has 50 years to recoup its investment on the North-South Highway, the operators of Trans Jamaica Highway Ltd have a 35-year concession on the East West toll road.

Stephen Shaw, director of technical services at the National Road Operating & Constructing Company (NROCC), told The Gleaner last year that the cost for the usage of the highway represents negotiated positions between the state and the developers. He noted that the developers, based on the concession agreements, have the right to set their price at a level where they can recoup their investments.

CHEC is to spend some US$610 million developing the North-South Highway, which will stretch from Caymanas in St Catherine to Mammee Bay in St Ann.

The Government has already spent US$120 million constructing a significant portion of the Mount Rosser bypass. The Chinese had budgeted US$75 million for the completion of the works, which were stalled by geotechnical problems.

The package from Government includes a gift of 1,200 acres of land to the Chinese which Davies said they will develop in order to secure a return on their investments.

The cost associated with the construction of the East-West Highway from Mandela Highway to May Pen is US$225 million. Another US$100 million was used to construct the 6.5-kilometre Portmore leg.

The 19-kilometre Mount Rosser bypass enables commuters to complete a journey in 15 minutes as opposed to the uncertainty of travelling Mount Rosser, which sometimes could take hours.

The North-South Link, when completed next year, will be 67.2 kilometres long, stretching from Caymanas, St Catherine, to Mammee Bay, St Ann, crossing the Rio Cobre and bypassing Mount Rosser and Flat Bridge.

Meanwhile, the Portmore, St Catherine-leg of Highway 2000 has the most expensive per-kilometre costs. The seven-kilometre roadway has a cost of $25.7 per kilometre for class-one vehicles; $41.42 per kilometre for class-two vehicles and $78.57 per kilometre for class-three vehicles.

Class three vehicles - which are those more than 1.7 metres high and more than 5.5 metres long - on the 11-kilometre stretch from Sandy Bay to May Pen also face a high per-kilometre cost of $25.45.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com

 

Members of the public are being asked to peruse a copy of the agreement at www.mtwh.gov.jm and forward their submissions in writing concerning the content of the proposed Order within seven days to:

Submission on Toll Order

Toll Authority

11a-15 Oxford Road

Kingston 5

Tel: 929-5119

Toll free: 1-888-991-4692

Fax: 929-1612

Email: tollauthority@mtwh.gov.jm