For Whom The Bell “Tolls”

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“I am tired of being hunted. Here we are all right. Now if you blow a bridge here, we will be hunted. If they know we are here and hunt for us with planes, they will find us. If they send Moors to hunt us out, they will find us and we must go. I am tired of all this. You hear?” He turned to Robert Jordan. “What right have you, a foreigner, to come to me and tell me what I must do?”

The words of Ernest Hemingway in his book “For Whom The Bell Tolls” would not have known of the impending doom for the residents of Portmore and the TOLL!

Yes, that’s what this blog is all about. The proposed toll for the new and improved 6-lane causeway that is being built under the road improvement plan by the Government. With work well underway and scheduled to be complete by December 2005, there is already talk of the amount to be charged as the toll. The Portmore residents are outraged! They have said it will be a maximum of US$1.00 when the road is complete. I think this is another attempt by the government and their friends who are contractors to milk the Jamaican worker out of every last penny of their hard-earned money.

From what I know of toll roads, there is usually an alternate route (toll-free) for motorists to drive in the event they do not wish to pay the toll. This exists in 1st world countries and while we are no where near 1st world, the premise of implementing a mandatory toll is absurd. When the Old Harbour by-pass was being built, there was this same hoop-la about the payment of the toll. The by-pass was built to alleviate the traffic woes that existed when one drove to May Pen through the Old Harbour town. This route still exists along with the toll road which cuts your travel time to May Pen in half. So, if you want to reach where you are going quicker, you pay the $50.00 toll. Needless to say, the Government made a big deal about the fact that this means of revenue was above budget. And with this in mind, it’s now … “For whom the bell tolls” … dem a go kill wi wid toll road. Mandela Highway is already very much on its way as is the Portmore Causeway.

My take on it is that there should be a choice. You can pay the toll if you so choose. We have been paying our taxes just like everyone else and as such should have the luxury of choice. The existing road should remain for those who do not wish to pay the toll. Reality check, in any given month at the proposed $65.00 per trip, that is $120.00 per day, total potential toll: J$3,720.00. This is appalling! Our alternate route to Kingston, the Mandela Highway will have a similar toll. What will we do? Take the bus (another blog for that!) Ridiculous! Utterly ridiculous.

The good thing is that the people are taking a stand on this issue. It will be interesting to see what the result is in the long run. The same thing was done with the previous toll road and it has been up and running and above budget!

For Whom Will the Bell “Toll”??? The Government obviously!

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