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‘Toll holiday’ will take some time until NLEx finds solution, says mayor Gatchalian



The “toll holiday” in Valenzuela City will continue and may even take some time before it is lifted.

Thus said Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian as the toll holiday goes on its second day after the city government suspended the business permit it issued with the North Luzon Expressway operator.

Gatchalian said the toll holiday could only be lifted if the company would show rectification by fixing its faulty system.

“If (NLEX Corp.) wants the suspension order lifted, they have to fix the deficiencies and address the concerns raised.  But I don’t think they have started yet so this might take some time,” Gatchalian said in a televised interview.

The mayor said the firm should particularly address “the monstrous traffic jam caused by the technical glitches in NLEX Corporation’s RFID system”,  as this has “already taken a toll on the economic, mental, and general well-being of our citizens. The suffering has to stop, the public deserves better.”

With the suspension order in place, toll fees in the city’s borders are indefinitely waived until the city government lifted the suspension of NLEx’s permit to operate.

Lowering the barriers and collecting toll fees while the order is in effect could result in the revocation of NLEX Corp.’s business permit.

Vehicles can simply pass through the toll gates in Barangay Karuhatan, Lawang Bato, Paso de Blas, and Ugong for now without being charged with minimum fee of P58.

On Monday, Gatchalian rejected NLEX Corp.’s appeal for a 15-day extension to address the traffic situation due to glitches in its tollway system.

In a letter addressed to NLEX Corp. President and General Manager Luigi Bautista, Gatchalian said the company’s response to his complaint lacks concrete action about the system.

Gatchalian even described the response as “unsatisfactory, wanting, and fell short of concrete action plans, solutions, and fixes.”

In a statement on Tuesday, Bautista said his group is “reviewing the situation and doing everything necessary to address the issues.”

“We are working to eliminate the inconvenience caused to our customers by the new compulsory tollway cashless transaction system using RFID that is required by the Department Order of the Department of Transportation (DOTr),” he said.

The Daily Tribune also reached out to transportation officials for comment.  Some sources said the department and its attached agencies could not comment on the matter.

To recall, Toll Regulatory Board Executive Director Abraham Sales told reporters last week that vehicular congestion along with the toll plazas and the occasional glitches in the systems are only part of the “birthing pains” of the cashless collection policy.

Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran even maintained that the RFID tag installation should not be delayed further.

The agency has set a one-month transition period to allow operators to integrate a smooth toll collecting systems.

This means no apprehension of vehicles without RFID tags is implemented until 11 January.

Motorists will only be issued a traffic violation ticket if they are in the wrong lane.