Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Toll Authority, Joan Fletcher, says based on a contractual agreement, the Government would have been obliged to pay the toll operators just under $500 million if they were to forego the toll increases, which will take effect on July 6.
She explained that the right to an increase is based on the formula outlined in the concession agreement with the developers.
“If however, the Government is so convinced by the submission of the public to forego the increase, then it is the Government which must now stand the cost of whatever losses the operators would be experiencing as a result of this decision,” Mrs. Fletcher said.
She pointed out that the estimated loss recovery that the operators would have been due was calculated based on toll usage last year, under the economic conditions which obtained at that time.
Mrs. Fletcher was speaking at a Jamaica House media briefing, held at the Office of the Prime Minister on July 3.
Meanwhile, Director of Works Policy in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Janet Coleman-Howlett, pointed out that the developers, in their application, had in fact indicated that they had considered the current economic climate, and therefore had not applied for the maximum increase.
“According to the concession agreement and the tolling policy, they really could have asked for the maximum amount…for example in Portmore, for the class one (vehicle), they could have asked for $165. What they have asked for is $150…so the rates, although it’s according to the formula, they have actually requested less than what is in the formula,” she added.
The Toll Authority was established under the Toll Roads Act to, among other things: regulate the operation and maintenance of toll roads and such other facilities as may be deemed necessary on or adjacent to toll roads; monitor compliance of concessionaires with the terms and conditions of concession agreements; and advise the Minister on matters of general policy relating to the design, construction, safety, regulation, operation and maintenance of the toll roads in Jamaica.
The public-private partnership of Highway 2000 include the National Road Constructing and Operating Company (NROCC), a state owned company, which was authorized by the Transport Ministry to delegate to the project company, the obligations to design, finance, construct, operate and maintain the highway, as well as to levy, retain, collect tolls with respect to the toll road usage.
TransJamaican Highway Limited is the project company owned by the developer, Bougues Travaux Publics. The company is also authorized to collect, levy and retain tolls in this respect, under the terms and conditions of the Concession Agreement.
As outlined in the Agreement of 2001 between NROCC and TransJamaica, Bouygues may apply for an annual increase in toll tariffs,provided that the toll is set at a rate either equal to or less than the toll cap.
Contact: Alphea Saunders