A total of 463 instances of toll avoidance was recorded at the Portmore Toll Plaza last year, according to police data.
However, the practice of unruly motorists tailgating other vehicles through toll booths to avoid paying decreased to 49 at the Portmore and May Pen plazas combined, between January 1 and April 30 this year, the police said, attributing the improvement to increased vigilance by the authorities.
Last year’s breaches were committed by 94 motorists, while 25 drivers are responsible for the 49 recorded so far this year.
Superintendent of Police Preston Wray of the Ferry Highway Patrol told the Jamaica Observer that recently two motorists, who sought to avoid paying at the Portmore and May Pen toll plazas, were arrested and placed before the courts. One of them, he said, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a fine of $10,000 or 20 days’ imprisonment. The other matter is still pending.
Wray also said that six toll evaders appeared in the St Catherine Parish Court in March this year. One pleaded guilty and was slapped with a fine of $5,000 for seven offences, or 30 days’ imprisonment at hard labour. One did not appear and a bench warrant was issued for her arrest.
The other four, he said, pleaded not guilty and were scheduled to reappear in court.
While the Jamaican Infrastructure Operator, which operates the Highway 2000 East-West network, declined to discuss the impact that toll avoidance is having on its revenue, the company said it works closely with the police to stem the practice as it poses risks to customers and staff.
As such, the company has a zero-tolerance policy to deal with the illegal act.
That, though, appears to be of little concern to one Toyota Coaster bus driver with whom this reporter travelled recently.
The driver, who was plying the Half-Way-Tree to Portmore route, was ticketed for speeding on the Newlands main road in Portmore.
He returned to the bus in fit of rage, saying that he would not be paying the fine out of his pocket, especially on a Friday evening when he was supposed to be getting paid.