Turn back the toll - Motorists face March 21 deadline for submissions on fees for - north-south link to Highway 2000
Members of the public have until next Monday - March 21 - to put in writing for consideration by the relevant authority their submissions on the proposed toll rates for sections one, two, and three of the north-south link of Highway 2000 - the more than 66-kilometre stretch running from Caymanas and Angels in St Catherine and terminating at Ocho Rios (Mammee Bay), St Ann.
This is in response to the rates proposed by the concessionaire Jamaica North South Highway Company, which were published in a press advertisement yesterday, in order to pave the way for motorists to start paying for accessing the highway at Angels, Caymanas, and Linstead in St Catherine, and Unity Valley, St Ann, by Saturday, April 2. This will bring to an end the free rides they have been enjoying since the opening of the new access points.
And some of the proposed rates such as the $3,700 for Class 3 vehicles starting the journey at Caymanas and exiting at Mammee Bay are hefty. For the same journey, motorcyclists will be required to fork out $600. The maximum (capped rate) and actual proposed toll are captured in the advertisement.
The proposed rate for Class 2 vehicles travelling from Caymanas to Mammee Bay is $2,450, reflecting a $25 difference from the capped rate of $2,475.
In other instances such as the case of Class 2 vehicles entering the highway at Angels ($2,150 - proposed rate), the difference with the capped rate of $2,160 for that 58-kilometre ride is a mere $10.
So what happens to the submissions generated by the general public as well as interest groups?
These will be collected and collated by the Toll Authority - with offices at 11A-15 Oxford Road, New Kingston - and passed on to transport minister Mike Henry and a high-level team at the ministry for review. Once Henry and Cabinet sign off on the rate, this is gazetted prior to taking legal effect by the proposed date of April 2.
However, before this takes effect, toll regulator Ryland Campbell, whose office is independent of the Toll Authority headed by chief executive officer Joan Fletcher, must go through the application with a fine-tooth comb, using an established formula, in order to ensure that it is fair to both the public, as well as the concessionaire.
Campbell's final determination on the rates is governed by the Concession Agreement of November 21, 2001, and the Toll Roads Act of 2002, which both provide the guidelines for the varying of toll charges.