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Suspension of NLEX Corp’s business permit stays

By: - Content Researcher Writer / @CeBacligINQ
/ 04:06 PM December 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The suspension order for the business permit of North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Corp. stays as it refused to agree with Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian’s bid for a barriers-up solution to ease congestion at toll gates.

During a two-hour meeting between Gatchalian and NLEX officials, the company requested additional time to study the proposed barriers-up solution.

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“You have any time you want, I will make myself available for further answers to our questions on the ‘barriers up’, and that will be the answer as to when we will lift the suspension,” Gatchalian told NLEX President and General Manager Luigi Bautista.

Under the “barriers up” scheme, radio-frequency identification (RFID) subscribers are not required to stop and wait for tollway scanners or readers to record the toll transactions.

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The procedure was proposed to avoid heavy build-up of motorists at NLEX toll gates.

Gatchalian earlier said the city government will only lift the business permit suspension if NLEX will agree to lift barriers in toll plazas.

‘Barrier-free’ toll in two to three years

During the meeting, Ma. Northwesterly Dionisio, Assistant Vice President-Operation of NLEX Corp., said they will implement a timed barrier-up solution for RFID lanes but only during heavy traffic situations.

“‘Barrier up’ operations allows vehicles to proceed and the RFID sensor or reader will continue to operate and record the toll transaction,” Dionisio explained.

According to NLEX Vice President-Technology Glenn Campos, the barrier-free implementation in toll plazas will happen in the next two to three years.

Campos said implementing a barrier-free tollway will require the removal of toll barriers and related structures as well as the installation of necessary structures.

He also noted that a 24/7 barrier-up scenario might give rise to safety problems.

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“Allowing 24/7 barrier-up entry may give rise to safety problems, such as entry of unauthorized vehicles (e.g., tricycles, vehicles without lights) and will prevent enforcement of laws such as the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, the Seatbelt Law and Anti-Overloading Law,” Campos said.

Campos also mentioned regulatory approvals and possible revenue loss as a possible result of having a barrier-up system.

However, Gatchalian insisted that the barrier-up solution should be implemented immediately.

“[If the  RFID easy trip system has a] 98 percent readability rate, two percent na lang ang di mabasa, bakit ayaw natin itaas? Why are you still worried about the two percent?” asked Gatchalian

( [If the  RFID easy trip system has a 98 percent readability rate and only two percent have issues, why are you against lifting the barriers?  Why are you still worried about the two percent?)

He explained that there is already proof that revenue will not be a problem if they will impose the solution.

“Nung nangyaring toll holiday maraming na-charge na nakataas [ang barrier] proof of concept na pwede,” he added.

(During the toll holiday, some motorists were charged while the barriers were up, that is a proof of concept that it works.)

The mayor proposed that the barriers-up solution should also be enforced “perpetually” and not just during rush hour.

“The point is, you like it when it’s convenient for you but you don’t like it when it’s convenient with the motorists,” he said.

Scheduled closure

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) General Manager Jojo Garcia suggested NLEX to have a scheduled barrier up.

“Gusto niyo madaling araw isara niyo, from 12 am to 5 am,  para a mga lasing etc.,” he said

(If you want, you can put barriers from 12 am to 5 am for drunk drivers, etc.)

“You need to identify for certain hours. For example, 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. barriers-up kayo for Valenzuela,” he added.

( You need to identify for certain hours. For example, from 5 am to 10 am you can remove barriers in Valenzuela.)

MOA on consumer welfare issues

While the discussion on barriers-up solution remains open, Gatchalian and NLEX officials agreed to sign a memorandum of agreement assuring that the company’s technical upgrade will address consumer welfare issues by 2021.

Included in the list of consumer welfare issues mentioned by Gatchalian were:

  • Inefficient RFID (Radio-frequency identification) registration process;
  • Un-business friendly policy when it comes to fleet management;
  • Inefficient reloading system including the delay in crediting time, P1,000 load limit, and the maintaining balance;
  • The drive through reloading booths which, according to the mayor, “defeats the purpose of contactless transaction”;
  • Account management issues which cover issues regarding the missing RFID load and double charging;
  • The “ghost rider” issue where a motorist is charged even though they did not pass through the tollways.

Campos, however, assured the public that their New Easytrip App will address technical issues by January 30, 2021.

“With the upgrade, lahat ba ng pinakita naming issues, double charging… lahat ‘yun maso-solve na?” asked Gatchalian.

(With the upgrade, can you solve all of the issues we presented – double charging – all of those will be solved?)

“Maha-handle po lahat ‘yun. Sa account management system ‘yung improvement na ginagawa namin,” said Campos, adding that they are a hundred percent confident to comply with the deadline they set.

(Those will be handled. We are improving the account management system.)

Gatchalian and the NLEX officials also agreed to restore cash lanes.

READ: NLEX to reopen cash lanes to avoid queues at toll plazas

On December 7, the Valenzuela City government suspended the business permit of NLEX Corp. due to the company’s failure to address the heavy traffic caused by the cashless toll collection.

Following the issuance of the suspension order, Gatchalian bared complains about non-responsive sensors in tollways as well as the missing RFID load balances. According to the mayor, some motorists noticed that their RFID account will reflect a low or zero balance even if they just reloaded money into their accounts.

READ: NLEX Corp. says some motorists complain of ‘defective’ RFID stickers

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TAGS: NLEX, NLEX Corp., North Luzon Expressway, radio frequency identification, Rex Gatchalian, RFID, toll ways, traffic, Transportation, Valenzuela City
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