Ja toll debate lures unions

Another group has stepped into standoff between the Jamaican Government and residents of Portmore, over the toll to be charged to use the new six-lane bridge linking Kingston with the municipality.

The Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions has been drawn in at the ninth hour to defend its members who will be affected by the toll.

Over the weekend, the confederation met with the Govern-ment to discuss the repercussions that the imposition of the toll would have on the pockets of public sector workers and the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding.

Senator Dwight Nelson, president of the JCTU told The Gleaner that members of the confederation met with Minister of Housing, Water, Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill, on Saturday to discuss several issues relating to the toll.

“We had the meeting but nothing much came out of it,” he said.

Some of the issues to be discussed, he said, are the inability of the people to pay the toll; the impact of the toll on the single and two-car families and Jamaica Urban Transit Company buses.

He said the discussion would include concerns about the Mandela Highway as the alternative route to the toll road. Senator Nelson said that the talks would examine how the imposition of the toll will impact family life when families who refuse to take the toll road will be forced to get up earlier to use the Mandela Highway.

The JCTU will also be discussing with Mr. Pickersgill the profit and the cost of the toll and how it will affect the Government’s budget.

The meeting should be held ahead of Friday’s expected announcement of the toll that Portmore residents will be asked to pay.

The notice of intention to make a toll order was published in newspapers last Tuesday announcing the toll cap and inviting comments.

Members of the public were allotted seven days to make their submissions. The toll bridge is expected to be officially opened next Thursday.