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TRAVEL ORDEAL

Lawmaker backs calls to suspend toll on SLEX

MANILA, Philippines — As the worsening traffic along the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) continues to punish people taking public transportation and motorists, Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones is asking its operator to suspend the collection of toll or to lower the fees for six months.

Aragones has filed a resolution urging SMC Tollways to implement these suggestions.

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The expressway has become more congested because of the closure since the evening of Sept. 24 of the outermost northbound lane of Skyway at-grade level just after the Alabang viaduct in Muntinlupa City.

One lane of the adjacent east service road was also closed.

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The closures were in connection with the construction of a 4-kilometer extension of Skyway (not 6 km as earlier reported) from Barangay Cupang to Barangay Putatan in Muntinlupa City.

Gridlock

In her resolution, Aragones said the traffic gridlock defeated the purpose of using the expressway.

The closure of the SLEx lane caused severe inconvenience to motorists and commuters, she said.

In the Senate, the “carmageddon” earlier prompted Senators Grace Poe and Sherwin Gatchalian to suggest the lowering of toll during the construction period of the Skyway extension.

Gatchalian even moved for a toll holiday to help ease the burden of affected motorists and those taking public transportation.

Lower toll, penalties

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On Sunday, Raymundo Junia, the private sector representative on the Toll Regulatory Board, said the board was considering reducing the SLEx toll and imposing fines on the SLEx operator and on Skyway for the traffic jams on the northbound portion of the expressway.

A San Miguel Corp. spokesperson was still unable to comment as of press time on Monday.

The P10-billion project started in August and is expected to be finished by December 2020.

SMC Tollways earlier said three northbound elevated lanes would be built on SLEx in Barangay Putatan, and two elevated southbound lanes would be constructed beginning at Skyway’s main toll plaza in Barangay Cupang.

“Upon completion, this project will help decongest the traffic at the existing South Metro Manila Skyway, providing direct connection with SLEx from Susana Heights to Skyway Main Line Toll Plaza and back,” SMC Tollways said in a flyer distributed to motorists only on Oct. 14.

One-way traffic scheme

The operator and the Muntinlupa local government have implemented a one-way traffic scheme on the East Service Road from Alabang to Sucat starting Oct. 8 to ease vehicular congestion in the area.

Commuters and drivers, however, complained that heavy traffic continued, partially blaming it on the confusion caused by the relocation of SLEx’s Alabang northbound toll plaza near Amkor Technologies in Barangay Cupang.

The SLEx management plans to implement a ban on trucks from provinces south of Metro Manila bound for the metropolis between 4 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

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TAGS: SLEX, SMC Tollways, Sol Aragones, suspension of SLEX toll
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