Holness Administration Negotiates 25% Toll Concession

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the government has negotiated a 25-percent reduction in the toll rates for motorists using the North-South link of Highway 2000.

The Prime Minister made the announcement this morning at the official opening the new corridor at the Toll Plaza in Caymanas Estate, St Catherine.

There was public outrage last week after it was announced that the proposed rates would see motorists paying as high as almost $7,000 for a round trip- on the recently constructed highway.

Prime Minister Holness is describing the 67-kilometer corridor which stretches from Caymanas in St Catherine to Mammee Bay in St Ann as a ‘road to prosperity’.

Mr. Holness says the discount was agreed with the contractors, China Harbour Engineering Company, CHEC, following two days of negotiations.

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The Prime Minister says Jamaicans can only benefit from the highway through strategic integration.

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Prime Minister Holness says the new highway present opportunities in several areas, including tourism.

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Meanwhile, the Chinese Ambassador to Jamaica, Qingbao Niu, says the completion of the highway represents a partnership between China and Jamaica’s two main political parties.

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And the Government says taxpayers will not be called upon to compensate China Harbour for the revenue the company will lose by virtue of having reduced the toll rates for motorists using the North-South link of Highway 2000.

Since Prime Minister Holness’ announcement that his government has negotiated a 25-percent reduction in the toll rates, users of social media have begun speculating whether the government will have to pay the Chinese sometime in the future, for the revenue lost from the discount.

The fear is that taxpayers will be called upon to foot that burden. But the Transport Minister, Mike Henry, says taxpayers have no reason to worry.

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Minister Henry says negotiations continue, with the government keen on securing a further reduction.

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Minister Henry says the Holness administration was bound by an agreement signed between the former PNP administration and China Harbour.

But he says given the public outcry over the toll rates, China Harbour was moved to offer a concession.

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The 25-percent reduction means that the toll fee for class one vehicles is $915. Class two vehicles will pay approximately $1,838. Trucks and heavy units will now pay $2,775. Motorbikes and other class four vehicles will be asked to pay $450.

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Abka Fitz-Henley is a multiple award-winning journalist who is currently the Senior Reporter at Nationwide News Network (NNN). His primary areas of focus are Court, Crime and Parliamentary proceedings. Fitz-Henley was recently recognized in the regional celebrity magazine publication Panache as “The Breaking News Boss”. At 21 years of age, following his 1st year in media, Fitz-Henley was recognized with the Young Journalist of the year award from The Press Association of Jamaica and went on to cop one of the country’s highest recognized journalism prizes, the Journalist of the Year Award. He’s also been awarded the prestigious Corporate Jamaica Broilers Fairplay 1st place Award for investigative journalism and is the recipient of the Caribbean Blog Award for coverage of the infamous Kartel murder trial. Fitz-Henley is also the recipient of the PM Youth Award for Excellence. Over the years, he has appeared as a guest on the BBC World Service and BBC London.