House speaker Lord Allan Velasco has called on the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to further extend the deadline for installing RFID stickers on vehicles using the tollways until the first quarter of 2021.
“At the rate things are going, I don’t think all 6.1 million registered vehicles in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Calabarzon will be provided with RFID stickers by Jan. 11, 2021,” Velasco said.
Velasco said the DOTr should also consider the fact that the pandemic has constrained many vehicle owners from leaving their homes and apply for RFID stickers.
“It would be more practicable if the deadline is further extended to March 31, 2021 to give all our motorists enough time to secure the stickers for the cashless payment system given that we are still in a pandemic where movement of people is limited,” he said.
Velasco made the call as tollways experienced gridlock upon the implementation of cashless payment in various expressways last Dec. 1.
Velasco shared the observations made by the House Committee on Transportation, which conducted a motu-proprio hearing last Nov. 25 in anticipation of the problems arising from the implementation of the cashless payment scheme at tollways.
Based on its calculation, the committee said it would take more than two years for all vehicles using the tollways to be provided with the RFID stickers.
Transportation Committee chair Samar 1st District Rep. Edgar Sarmiento also noted that Thailand and Indonesia took a year and a half on the average to be fully cashless.
“In comparison, it’s been barely five months from the issuance of the (DOTr’s) Department Order 2020-012 since the implementation of cashless payment,” Sarmiento pointed out.
During the hearing conducted by Sarmiento’s committee, it was also bared that the RFID reader equipment machines of the North Luzon Expressway have yet to be upgraded.
“The concerned agencies should have ensured first the feasibility of going cashless in the amount of time given to vehicle owners,” Velasco said.
He added: “Instead, the implementation on Dec. 1 looked like a dry-run. This defeats the purpose of having our tollways becoming efficient in going cashless.”