Truckers slam brakes on new toll road!
The executive of the All Island Truckers Association has made it clear that its 34,000-strong membership will not be using the north-south link of Highway 2000 as the preferred route for transporting commercial goods from the Corporate Area to western Jamaican, in light of the prohibitively heavy toll fees that will make it impractical.
In fact, the steep gradients along the 66 kilometre stretch could take a greater toll on their vehicles, the truckers argue, insisting that it will not be cost effective or quicker.
“For a car, maybe yes it would end up shorter if your car is in excellent condition. But for a truck you are concerned about a load that you are carrying and as such there is a need to select a very low gear – especially for the Mammee Bay stretch drive at a very low speed, for safety reasons,” executive director JudithAnn Williams-Sharpe told The Gleaner Thursday night.
“Whether going up or coming down you need to be going slow in terms of safety – going up it would be necessary for protecting your vehicle from overheating. So it’s not necessarily faster for a loaded truck,” Williams-Sharpe explained.
Her comments came in the wake of a press release from the association denouncing the proposed fees which would see all truckers, irrespective of vehicle size paying $7,400 per return trip, as “an additional strain on tightly stretched pockets as the toll offers no reprieve from the existing cost of operations”.
“Rather than being able to identify benefits to traversing this corridor, we have found several disadvantages,” the release said. “The toll road offers a smoother ride however trucker’s have indicated that they would rather stand the cost of front-end damage on the old road versus the highly likely engine damage they would face from overheating on the new toll, along with other possible mechanical issues including brake failures.”
It continued: “On the South Coast toll road smoke has been a fairly frequent hazard. Heavy fog as late as 9:00 a.m. on the new toll presents the same visibility challenge as presented by smoke; the only difference being fog is a daily occurrence hence a much higher risk over which no one has any control.”
The truckers argue further that there is no guarantee that traffic crashes on the toll road will not present the same delays as happens on the traditional routes when there is a road blockage and could in fact be worse, since instead of having several alternate roads to choose from, they will get stuck on a one-way toll road.