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Civil servants vow to have gov't foot cost of using new highway

Published:Tuesday | March 22, 2016 | 4:35 PMJovan Johnson

Approximately 12,500 government workers represented by the Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA) have vowed to only use the North-South Link of Highway 2000 on official business to ensure that toll charges are covered by the public purse and not their pockets.

The workers are categorised as travelling officers and are, therefore, entitled to certain allowances, including the reimbursement of toll charges if they travel on toll roads to carry out their duties.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday officially opened the latest leg of the highway project which runs from Caymanas in St Catherine to Ocho Rios in St Ann amid mounting public backlash over the proposed rates, which range from $80 to $3,700.

O'Neil Grant, president of the JSCA, says that his members generally have challenges in using the toll roads across the country because of the cost. According to him, the proposed rates for the North-South Link will prove "prohibitive" except when the workers are travelling on government business.

"They (travelling officers) have committed to the union that they will ensure that they use the tolls roads for official government business because it is a reimbursable item. In their personal capacities, it's too high," Grant told The Gleaner.

He added: "We can't absorb that cost as public officers. It has to be the employer that bears that cost."