Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade expressed remorse over the various difficulties endured by the motoring public in switching to cashless toll collection, which was intended to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade says he is sorry for the difficulties of shift to RFID
At a televised briefing with Malacañang Wednesday night, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) chief apologized to the public as well as the local government units for the disruptions brought about by the RFID system.
13 Frequently Asked Questions on RFIDs for Philippine Expressways
Motorists have reported numerous problems with the RFID system. These include long lines of vehicles at the toll plazas, the short supply of stickers at installation sites, faulty RFID scanners, and disappearing load balances. Things came to a head on December 7, 2020 when Mayor Rex Gatchalian of Valenzuela City suspended toll operator NLEX Corporation’s business permit over gridlocks caused by RFID installation at the toll gates.
Valenzuela City suspended toll collection at its section of the NLEX following heavy traffic at the toll gates
This resulted in a toll holiday for the Valenzuela portion of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) which lasted for nine days. The suspension order was eventually lifted after the toll operator agreed to conditions laid down by the Valenzuela local government to improve traffic management in the area.
“Alam ko ho na nakakabulahaw dahil sa mga nangyayari. Nahihiya po ako sa Valenzuela, sa mga local government, sa mga nagmamaneho,” Tugade said.
(I know it is infuriating because of what’s happening. I am embarrassed by what happened to Valenzuela, to the other local governments, as well as motorists who are affected)
He adds that he has already asked toll operators to consider keeping the barriers up and let motorists pass in case of failed transactions. He noted that the system’s flaws are a burden that should not be shouldered by travelers using the tollways.
President Duterte wants the TRB to resolve issues surrounding RFIDs
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte blamed RFID woes on the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), warning the office that heads will roll if the glitches are not resolved. An attached agency under the DOTr, the TRB is tasked to oversee all toll facilities in the country, and is spearheading the shift to the RFID system.
“If you cannot perform what is expected of you, then the best that you can do for decency’s sake (is to) resign, and do not wait to be fired because that’s more hurtful,” the President said. “The only reason people would believe what the cause was is because you are incompetent.”
As a former mayor, Duterte added that he sympathized with Gatchalian’s decision to suspend NLEX Corporation’s business permit. The President emphasized that the TRB should not have implemented the RFID scheme without a trial run to ensure the system’s efficiency.
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Joseph Paolo Estabillo