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Toll hike could affect commerce, says Portmore chamber

Published:Sunday | July 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Motorists heading towards the toll booth in Portmore, St Catherine.

The Sunshine City Chamber of Commerce (SCCC) in Portmore, St Catherine, said the toll hike which took effect on Saturday, July 1, is too sharp and poses a challenge for economic growth in the community.

It said it is of the view that the situation puts consumers under pressure because their disposable income keeps getting squeezed.

"Imagine having to pay $440 per day just because of where you live, and the only alternative is not practical because of the distance and dense traffic coming from the rest of St Catherine along with central and western Jamaica," the chamber said in a release.

It added that the cost over five working days will translate to $2,200 per week in additional living expenses and the residents of Portmore generally pay the same taxes and fees as every other citizen in Jamaica.


Rate increases


It emphasised that the toll has been increased from $100 to $120, $120 to $150, $170 to $200 and now to $220 in less than 10 years.

The SCCC said it understands that there will be increases but that it should be spread over a longer period.

According to the SCCC, if Portmore is squeezed too tightly, it could potentially result in greater social issues in the medium term such as increased crime linked to scarce jobs, because of weak local business activity.

The SCCC wants audience with the toll operators to voice their concerns regarding the implications the current regime could have on the community.

It noted that Portmore's financial ecosystem is largely driven by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and those entities are very sensitive to shifts in prices.