By Demion McTair. Updated 9:30 a.m., Thursday, August 27, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – Economist and candidate for the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) in the East Kingstown constituency, Mr. Dwight Fitzgerald “Fitz” Bramble, has pitched the idea of establishing a EC$1 toll for motorists passing through Sion Hill.
On ANN’s On the Spot, streamed LIVE on Facebook on Wednesday night (August 26), Mr. Bramble said “on top of Sion Hill, right there, that is an area that can be developed into a commercial hub”.
“If you want to say at some point, you make it where vehicles pay a toll to come into town,” Mr. Bramble said, adding that he knows people don’t like to hear about paying fees.
The EC$1 fee will be charged every time vehicles go through Sion Hill to go into the Windward side or to come into town, Mr. Bramble said.
But, he said an alternative to the EC$1 toll idea can be to have a parking and shuttle system at Arnos Vale, to help ease traffic congestion and reduce carbon emissions.
“An alternative or an option in the morning time, you have a parking lot. In the States and all about, you hear about ride and park, park and ride, you know… you park out at the E.T Joshua Airport area, there’s lots of space there, enough space for a parking lot and still the new city that’s being talked about. There is more than enough space” he said.
“You put a parking lot out there and you have shuttle buses running, so people park out there, they catch a shuttle bus, whether you pay $20 per month or whatever, $15 per month, $10 per month, whatever it is. Or, it could even be complimentary because by the time the NDP government has this economy as vibrant as we know we could have it, then we could afford to provide complimentary shuttle for people parking out Arnos Vale to get into town,” he said.
He said the idea can help to address traffic congestion and pollution.
At the time of his comments, Mr. Bramble was talking about his 2020 East Kingstown Constituency Development Plan, from which he outlined projects he hopes to undertake in the constituency from 2020 to 2030.
Some of the other proposed projects under the plan include the establishment of a recreational water park at Sion Hill Bay, with Dolphin-watching and restaurants; an indoor sporting facility and performing arts center; and an indoor Olympic-sized swimming pool.
When asked about financing for the projects, Mr. Bramble said the proposed Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Program will be used to fund such projects.
The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines came under fire in April 2007, when it introduced a EC$1 user fee for passengers travelling to The Grenadines.
The government had implemented the fee to help with the upkeep of facilities it built for travellers to utilize while they waited for ferries to travel to The Grenadines.
But, some persons at the time argued that the fare was divisive against the people of The Grenadines.
In late January 2010, during the National Budget, the government removed the EC $1 user-fee after being persuaded by users to do so.