MANILA - Skyway Stage 3 is incurring "mounting losses" due to the Toll Regulatory Board's "inaction" on its petition to collect fees, San Miguel Corp president Ramon Ang said Tuesday.
Motorists earlier were confused after SMC announced late Monday that it would close the 18-km elevated highway starting March 16 until all ramps are complete in compliance with an order from the TRB.
The toll regulator denied the claim but later said the elevated high-way could remain open.
Ang confirmed that there would be "no closure," following talks with Transport Secretary Art Tugade.
In a separate statement, Ang said the toll regulator is insisting that Skyway Stage 3 cannot start full operations and collect toll until all ramps are complete.
Ang said its agreement with the regulator stated that toll collection could start once the construction is at 95 percent. Skyway Stage 3 is now at 97 percent, he said.
"We need sufficient funds for the toll road's daily maintenance, proper long-term upkeep and to keep it safe and efficient for the motoring public," he said.
"As Skyway 3's losses have been mounting because TRB keeps delaying the start of toll collection, the quickest way for our infrastructure unit to speed up 100 percent completion of the ramps would have been to close Skyway 3," he said.
In an interview with ANC Market Edge on Tuesday morning, TRB Spokesman Julius Corpuz said the regulator is already studying San Miguel's request to collect toll, and will come out with a decision "in the coming days."
“Their petition is now under thorough review. And in the coming days, management will soon make a recommendation to out TRB board of more or less how much would be the possible just and reasonable rate that the operator may be authorized to collect once authority is granted to them,” Corpuz said.
Prior to authorization, the toll operator's proposed fee must be approved by the board, the highway's ramps must be at least 95 percent complete and should be "safe and ready for commercial operation," Corpuz said Tuesday.
"'Yan po ay kailangan nating gawin upang masigurado natin once they are authorized to collect in due time ang ating toll fee at walang aberya sa kanilang pangongolekta," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(We need to do this to ensure that once they are authorized to collect toll fee in due time, there would be no difficulties.)
In its petition to the TRB, San Miguel asked to be allowed to collect P274 toll for end-to-end travel through Skyway 3.
The over P80-billion project was built at no cost to the government and has been fully funded by SMC, Ang said. It was offered for public use, for free "for a reasonable amount of time," he said.
Toll fees were also lowered to ease the burden of motorists, he said. Ang said its unit cannot operate the project if it is not generating revenues.
SMC said P10 billion is needed to operate the toll road per year. With its proposed rates, it will earn a revenue of P4 billion per year on a 60,000 vehicles per day volume.
"Basically, we have done everything to make sure we can viably operate Skyway 3 right away, so we can serve motorists...This is really a team effort and we need to work together fir our country to succeed," Ang said.
The elevated highway connects the North Luzon Expressway to the South Luzon Expressway, cutting travel time from end to end to just 20 minutes from 3 hours.