Wed | Sep 30, 2020

Letter of the Day | Hold off on toll road price increase

Published:Saturday | September 12, 2020 | 12:13 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

There are advertisements in the media about an impending increase in the toll rate on the East-West leg of the highway.

This increase was to take effect in July this year but was held back because of the challenges and hardships brought on by COVID-19.

While the public is grateful for this effort, the fact is that COVID-19 is still upon us, and it is worse than before. A rate increase could well be due, but the circumstances at this time are not ideal.

For example, the Jamaican dollar, partially on which rate increases are determined, is readjusting itself on the market, and the entire economy has declined significantly, affecting all consumers.

Most people’s savings have just about vanished, and a recent article in The Gleaner highlighted the plight of families who have to be cutting back on meals and other necessities of basic living. This vividly describes what most low-income families are experiencing right now.

Any price increase, right now, would be detrimental to the people because of the ripple effects it will have on them to compromise on basic necessities.

Much of the local foods consumed by the population come from western and central Jamaica, and increasing the toll means that increased costs for transportation will be eventually passed to the consumers and, coupled with the effects of the drought, will mean that the average consumer will find it more difficult to eat what is grown locally.

Another negative effect will be that many motorists will be forced to use the alternative road, resulting in gridlock in Old Harbour, which will reduce the volume of people using the toll road and impact its revenue.

One wonders how much a journey from Mandeville will cost when that highway project is completed.

If, however, an increase is imminent, one hopes that the service at the plazas will improve as quite often, some of the gates are closed, resulting in long lines and the motorists ending up spending more time on the road than saving any.

TREVOR SAMUELS

Acting PRO

National Consumers League