Lawmaker calls for suspension of mandatory RFID system at NLEx
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday called for the suspension of the mandatory cashless toll collection system at the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) after motorists endured heavy traffic due to faulty radio frequency identification (RFID) scanners.
“I’m calling for a suspension until they fix the RFID readers. The crux of the problem here is the RFID readers are not working, the technology they are using in the North is not functioning,” Gatchalian said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel.
“If it’s not functioning, then don’t let our motorists feel the brunt of that inconvenience. Let our motorists pass through the highways with complete convenience by suspending the mandatory RFID, you cannot mandate our motorists to use [a] cashless [system] if the RFID readers are not working,” he added.
Asked if his call for the RFID suspension would also cover other major toll roads, the senator told INQUIRER.net in an online message: “Just NLEx for now.”
“Because that’s where I received almost all of our complaints; plus I have personal experience,” he added.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) earlier ordered the full implementation of cashless toll collection at expressways and major toll roads in a bid to reduce physical contact in these areas as a measure against the spread of COVID-19.
While the intention of a complete shift to a cashless toll system is “good,” Gatchalian said it was “not well-planned.”
“You have to plan for these things. We’re talking about close to 300,000 vehicles passing through NLEx every single day, so we’re talking about people all the way to Region 1. Even some parts in Region 2, we’re talking the whole Central Luzon and northern Luzon passing through that highway. So it’s not logistically that easy. You have to really plan it,” the senator said.
He said he receives complaints from truck drivers who are obligated to get RFID tags for their vehicles even if they only pass through expressways once a month or a “a few days a year.”
“Just imagine this volume of traffic in vehicles that is now going to pass through the toll booths and the RFID readers. So you have to plan these things. And in my analysis, it’s not well-planned. They underestimated the process and they underestimated the technology,” Gatchalian said.
Last week, Valenzuela City suspended the business permit of NLEx Corp. for failing to address the heavy traffic that its cashless toll collection has been causing in the city.
The suspension order means motorists will be able to pass through the NLEx system within the city toll-free.
NLEx Corp. said it is reopening cash lanes to prevent congestion from forming along NLEx.
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