DOTr, TRB quizzed over delays in Toll Collection Interoperability Project
MANILA, Philippines — Representatives of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) were grilled Thursday over delays in the Toll Collection Interoperability Project.
Lawmakers questioned the DOTr and TRB why the project is still under Phase 2 years after the agreement was signed.
During a hearing of the House committee on transportation, Caloocan 3rd District Rep. Dean Asistio asked the agencies when the long overdue project will be completed, noting that the memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the government and toll concessionaires Metro Pacific Tollway Corporation (MPTC) and San Miguel Corporation (SMC) Infrastructure was signed since 2017.
“This representation would like to know kung kailan nga po ba talaga ang deadline ng nasabing unified RFID stickers system project kasi ho base sa 2017 na MOA, eh sorry for the term, long overdue na po ‘yong implementation nito,” he said.
(This representation would like to know the true deadline of the so-called unified RFID stickers system project because, based on the 2017 MOA, sorry for the term, its implementation has been long overdue.)
The TRB and DOTr admitted restrictions had brought delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and incompatibility issues in the MPTC and SMC Infrastructure RFID stickers.
“No’ng time kasi po ng pandemic parang nagkaroon po ng delay sa implementation no’ng project,” TRB Chief Finance Officer Josephine Turbolencia said.
(During the pandemic, there were delays in the project implementation.)
“No’ng pinirmahan po ‘yong MOA in 2017, it took 14 months para makumpleto ‘yong Phase 1, no’ng inimplement po ang Phase 2, there were delays admittedly by the concessionaires and by that of the TRB gawa po ng una, ‘yong pandemya, pangalawa po, I think there were incompatibility issues with regards to the stickers of the [MPTC] para po mabasa ‘yong system ng SMC Tollways,” Transportation Undersecretary Steve Pastor added.
(When the MOA was signed in 2017, it took 14 months to complete Phase 1. When Phase 2 was implemented, there were delays admittedly by the concessionaires and by that the TRB because of first, the pandemic; and second, I think there were incompatibility issues with regards to the stickers of MPTC that should be read by the SMC Tollways.)
Before Asistio’s question, TRB’s Public Utilities Regulation Officer John Patrick Ojano presented the timeline for Phase 2, which entails readability of Easytrip RFID – the tags used by tollways under the MPTC system – at SMC Infrastructure’s Autosweep RFID system.
According to Ojano, they are finalizing Phase 2 of the project with only an announcement and awareness campaign pending. Phase 2 may be completed by January 2023, he added.
But Asistio was not pleased, asking for a timeline for the final Phase 3 of the project. In response, Turbolencia said details on Phase 3 might be released after the December 5 meeting of stakeholders.
He also assured Asistio that Phase 3 may be started in 2023.
“After this (December 5) meeting, we will submit the timetable for Phase 3, kasi magmi-meeting po kami ng December 5, so there at least mabigay na po namin ‘yong timeline ng Phase 3,” Turbolencia added.
(After this December 5 meeting, we will submit the timetable for Phase 3, because we will meet by December 5, so at least we may be able to give the timeline for Phase 3.)
Earlier, there were questions from lawmakers, particularly the committee chair and Antipolo City 2nd District Rep. Romeo Acop, as to whether a law is needed to ensure that the interoperability program moves.
TRB and DOTr said a law would help, while MPTC and SMC Infrastructure said they could manage without it.
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