PRIVATE motorists will be hit with another financial blow from Sunday when tolls rise on two of the country's busiest roads.
Drivers using the M4 Kilcock-Kinnegad and M3 Clonee-Kells motorways will be forced to pay an extra 10 cents per toll just weeks after motor tax rates and fuel costs rose in the Budget.
But haulage companies will be the worst hit, with tolls on all motorways increasing.
The move will add to the cost of transporting goods which will impact on consumers, haulage groups have warned.
The Consumers' Association of Ireland said the decision added to the "extraordinary" contribution that motorists were expected to make to shore up the State's creaking finances.
"The motorist pays much more of a contribution to the tax take than is fair or reasonable," chief executive Dermott Jewell said.
The reason for the increases is twofold -- the 2pc VAT hike and the method of calculating tolls, based on the consumer price index, which rose this year.
Haulage companies last night threatened to mount blockades unless their bills were reduced.
Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) president Eoin Gavin said the Government was "ignoring" proposals to reduce the high cost of doing business here, and that some companies were considering re-locating to Northern Ireland and Eastern Europe in an effort to lower costs.
"We've been hit with the 2pc VAT hike in the Budget, a 1.6 cent increase in diesel from the carbon tax and a €240 average per truck hike on the motor tax," he said.
"It's £500 (€598) to register a truck in the North. It's €3,440 to register here. There's 300 hauliers in the south-east looking to re-register in Bulgaria. People here will end up paying through the nose for haulage.
"We're going to mount blockades in the new year unless something is done. We've given strong proposals to Government on funding, and they're ignoring them."
The IRHA wants taxing and tolling to be amalgamated into one payment. Trucks are taxed for 24 hours of use, but are only on the road for nine.
"We're suggesting a system where you pay when you're on the road," Mr Gavin added