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Toll operators did not request maximum increase

Published:Thursday | July 4, 2013 | 12:00 AM

TAXPAYERS WOULD have been saddled with a nearly $500-million bill had the toll authorities not granted an increase to operators.

"The maximum chargeable for Class 1 vehicles using the Portmore Toll Plaza is $165, but they only requested $150, indicating that they did not request the maximum," Janet Coleman-Howlett, director for works policy in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, said yesterday.

Coleman-Howlett was speaking during a press briefing at Jamaica House in St Andrew.

As of Saturday, users of the toll road will be required to pay more at the toll plazas, with the increases ranging from 11 to 23 per cent.

Joan Fletcher, toll administrator at the Toll Authority of Jamaica, which has primary responsibility for monitoring the concession agreement in accordance with the Toll Roads Act, said the operators of the toll road have a legitimate right to toll increases by virtue of the concession agreement, which provides the guidelines for toll charges.

"The operators are allowed to apply for toll increases, and the right to an increase is really based on the components of the formula in the concession agreement," said Fletcher.

SEVERAL FACTORS AT PLAY

She stated that the operator's decision to apply for an increase is guided by many factors, including the consumer price index and the exchange rate.

Fletcher further highlighted the possibility that with a steady decline in the usage of the toll roads since 2007, the operators might not have been recouping what they had initially anticipated.

She also explained that the operators were mindful of Jamaica's economic downturn, not requesting the maximum toll increase that the agreement allows.

"Whether or not they are making a profit is going to be driven by the number of persons actually using the toll," Fletcher emphasised.