Senator Win Gatchalian formally asked the Senate to review the minimum performance standards compliance of toll operators stipulated in their concession agreements as well as the powers and functions of the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), the government agency that regulates all toll roads in the country.
Gatchalian, in filing Monday afternoon Senate Resolution No. 587, said the conduct of an inquiry is in aid of legislation and in exercise of the Senate’s oversight functions.
“There is a need to review the concession agreements of existing tollway operators to check if the operation of their toll collection system conforms to the minimum standard specifications for operations and maintenance under toll operations certificate or agreement,” he said.
The Vice Chairman of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee likewise said that a review of the existing oversight mechanisms set by Presidential Decree 1112, which created the TRB, is also in order.
The TRB, by virtue of PD 1112, was created to grant authority to operate a toll facility and issue the necessary “Toll Operation Certificate” as well as the power to amend, modify or revoke the same whenever public interest so requires, Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian said the TRB should implement a toll holiday in the wake of an admission from NLEX on the glitches in their system, including the malfunctioning of RFID sensors on vehicles. NLEX Corp. Senior Vice President for Communications Junji Quimbo, earlier acknowledged the veracity of claims of motorists on the defective RFID sensors and vowed to remedy the situation and improve their operations in the coming days.
Gatchalian’s move stemmed from the numerous issues surrounding the full implementation since December 1 of the electronic toll collection (ETC) and the compulsory use of radio frequency identification device (RFID) to ensure 100 percent cashless or contactless transactions to lessen human contract and prevent infections from coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“These malfunctioning RFID sensors and installation of RFID stickers exacerbated the already dismal traffic situation in the tollways and nearby roads since the start of the shift to a purely cashless toll collection system,” said Gatchalian.
“Thousands of motorists have been suffering from the horrendous traffic that has been going on for a week now and which could have been prevented had they exercised prudence before setting a deadline on the implementation of the RFID system. What’s more glaring than the admission of the fact that the system is not equipped enough to carry out the cashless payment scheme? Does that not constitute gross negligence on the part of the toll operator?” he asked.