Gatchalian warns NLEX operator of concession revocation due to RFID mess

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Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian has warned the operator of North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) that its concession agreement could be revoked due to possible violations committed in the implementation of the RFID rollout.

Earlier, his brother – Valenzuela City mayor Rex Gatchalian – threatened to suspend or revoke the business permit of NLEX Corp. unless it is able to provide by Monday, Dec. 7,  a satisfactory explanation for the heavy vehicular traffic caused by the RFID system.

Sen. Gatchalian said he will file a resolution within the week calling for a review of the concession agreements of toll operators for failing to oversee some malfunctioning RFID sensors in toll plazas prior to the implementation last December 1 of the cashless transactions.

The lawmaker took note of reports on defective RFID sensors such as the case of those traversing the interchange in NLEX leading to Valenzuela City.

Gatchalian likewise hit the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), the agency that regulates the operation and maintenance of toll facilities, for failing to lift a finger in the wake of numerous complaints from motorists of long queues and traffic congestion.

He noted that in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) signed by the TRB board last October 5 on the Department of Transportation (DOTr) Order No. 2020-12 requiring cashless or contactless transactions for all vehicles travelling on toll expressways, it says that toll operators are required to “ensure at all times the efficient operation and maintenance of the toll collection facility.”

Furthermore, he noted that the TRB obligated the toll road companies to act on motorists’ complaints within three business days from the time of referral or filing of the complaint, and failure to do so without any justifiable reason shall automatically result in the resolution of the issue in the motorists’ favor.

The IRR also provides for the imposition of a penalty against toll road companies for non-compliance with the policy of the TRB.

“Such is an utter display of callousness to the plight of the motorists who, because of technical glitches and apparent inaction of concerned authorities, get stuck in traffic for hours,” Gatchalian said.

“It’s all over the news that snags in the installation of RFID stickers prior to and especially on the day of the start of the cashless toll collection resulted in the high volume of cars along the expressways. This has been happening for several days now. Had there been any clear sign or action from the concerned parties in resolving this monstrous traffic jam? None,” he said.

“The public expects to take cue from the authorities but obviously no one is taking the lead. Toll road operators have the temerity to exact fees from the public without any commensurate services. It’s deplorable to say the least,” Gatchalian rued.

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