The Belle Has “Tolled”


Today is the official opening of the Portmore leg of Highway 2000 signifying the beginning of one of the worst kinds of oppression and extortion brought to the Jamaican people by the Government – yet again with the imposition of a toll charge of J$60 one way for cars, J$100 for SUVs and $230 for all other vehicles.

For those who may not know, the government, in its road expansion exercise has taken away the main route for Portmore residents, one of the the largest residential community in Jamaica, and created a toll road, hence forcing the residents to pay to enter and exit the community in which they live. In their minds, the alternate route, the Mandela Highway is a suitable alternative, despite the repair and expansion which would need to be made on this road to make it a “suitable alternative”. The Mandela is traversed by persons coming from Spanish Town and some Portmore residents resulting in a major traffic job during peak hours. So, in order for persons to reach to work early or on time, it requires leaving home about 6 a.m. or before to achieve this.

Although the government has sought to appease the residents by offering frequent travel discounts with the use of the Toll Tag, it is still an atrocity tantamount to almost slavery by asking persons to fork out anywhere from J$30,000 upwards per year to use the toll. With Memorandum of Understandings with wage freezes, public sector workers taking industrial action because of a wage dispute, how do they expect poor people to survive? It is absolute cruelty and equates to extortion perpetrated by the dons in our society.

When will the Jamaican people realize that we must take a stand? For years, we have just taken what is dished out to us with no retaliation. The Portmore residents (of which I am a part) have proposed a boycott of the toll road for the next 2 months and will be having a vigil service this evening. Although it may not achieve the desired result of a lower toll charge, they should be applauded for the stance they have taken from the beginning until now.

So many ills in our society right now and I wonder if it will ever get better. There is no faith in the government, in the security system, in the justice system (although this has improved somewhat), in the church (don’t get me started on the Deacon story), the education system. Where is the hope? We have to find it back somehow. Someway. Somewhere.


9 responses »

  1. Wow,that sounds like a lot of money.I caught a bit of this on Caribvision a few days ago. Like you have to get up earlier CD.

  2. Oh my i am reading this and i don’t believe it i don’t know but that sounds like alot of money really unbelievable i hope the citezens knw that its their vote that puts the government into power so they do have a say i wonder if they do that in trini what will people do in these hard times….

  3. just finnished reading the Deacon story and its really sad the way adults keep harming the young in our society hopeful justice will prevail and that girl could heal and move on.

  4. I hope the government remembers that they won the last election by 10,000 votes islandwide. There are more than 200,000 of us living in Portmore….nuff said.

  5. I know I don’t plan to travel that route whenever I go to Portmore! Good thing I don’t live in that vicinity. Just one more way the government exploites the Jamaican people.

    Fyah fi di deacon and him bowys!!!!

  6. Your story is one sided — leaves out a lot of facts. Before the toll road we had to fill our tanks twice per week, because we idled so much in traffic, at a cost of $6,000 per week. We had to leave home by 6:30AM the latest. Now, we fill our tanks once per week and we leave home at 8:15AM. The new toll fee is $500 per week. Do the maths, all who oppose the toll road, do the maths. That’s savings of $130,000 per year; not to mention getting more sleep.

  7. Anonymous, I don’t know what kind of car you are driving but I have never had to fill my tank twice per week before the toll. I used to leave home at 6:30 or 7 a.m. and still got to work on time at 8 unless there is some unforeseen circumstance. It is only $500 per week if you purchase a tag. It will cost the average person $600 to commute in and out of their home.

    You are clearly missing the point of my post. There is no viable alternate route and the expectation of us to travel on the Mandela Highway as an alternative is ludicrous. The truth is the Portmore toll road may benefit the Spanish Town people more than us because they will suffer (and have since the opening of the road) with us bombarding their usual route to commute. It is downright exploitation of the government and continued rape of poor jamaican people who already cannot afford to live a decent life. Portmore has been a growing community for many years. I have lived there all my life. And it is only now that the government sees us as a big CASH COW to them that they have managed to get away with this atrocity. We are paying a larger amount for a smaller distance in comparing to the Spanish Town toll plaza. Us having to pay that much for a toll is worse than having a gun man hold us up and take the money away from us.

    So, if you want to take your $130,000 savings and pay for the others, then you should do that.

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