Member of Parliament for St Catherine South Eastern, Robert Miller says he has written to Minister of Transport and Mining, Audley Shaw with recommendations regarding the annual increase in toll rates that residents of Portmore have to pay.
Based on the agreement with TransJamaican Highway Limited East-West, a rate increase is granted each year that is in line with inflation.
The most recent increase took effect on July 2 and saw rates going up between 9.09 per cent and 26.67 per cent.
Miller, who was making his contribution to the 2022/23 State of the Constituency Debate in the House of Representatives, said one of his recommendations is that the contract with the toll operator be renegotiated.
Noting that the contract was signed by a previous People’s National Party Government, Miller said: “We, on this (the Jamaica Labour Party) side, believe the contract is inconsiderate and erroneous to the people of the constituency, and citizens of Portmore in particular.”
“I have been in dialogue with the minister and we hope that this vexed issue will be resolved sooner rather than later. We use this opportunity to encourage the toll operators to sit around the table as we come up with solutions in which everyone benefits,” Miller added.
But, while he is hoping for an outcome that will be of benefit to his constituents, Miller acknowledged that the government’s hands are tied “in regards to the yearly increase of the toll cost”.
Portmore residents have for more than a decade complained of the unfairness of paying a toll on a relatively short stretch of road that sees them stuck in traffic for extended periods in the mornings and evenings during peak hours. The alternative route along the Mandela Highway is equally congested during peak hours.
For its part, the operators of Highway 2000, which links Kingston to the South Coast and encompasses the Portmore leg of the toll, raked in US$52.7 million (J$8 billion) in tolls in 2021.
The figure was 16 per cent higher than in 2020, according to the audited report by TranJamaican Highway.