MANILA - Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday proposed implementing a toll holiday on the whole of the North Luzon Expressway while the RFID system is malfunctioning.
"My view here is if your system is not working, why charge the consumers? Let’s implement a toll holiday in the entire stretch of NLEX. It’s not only Valenzuela experiencing (sic) here, other LGUs are also experiencing (sic) here," he told ANC's Headstart.
"Operators are mandated to put perfect or near perfect RFID readers. But if it’s not functioning, then why allow the motorists to feel the inconvenience of that imperfection," he said.
Gatchalian, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Services, initially pitched for the suspension of the mandatory cashless payment system.
"If the RFID readers are not functioning and 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," he said.
"You cannot mandate our motorists to use cashless if the RFID readers are not working," he added.
The Department of Transportation directed operators to go cashless earlier this year to minimize the possibility of COVID-19 transmission. However, there had been reports that some sensors fail to pick up on the data from the RFID sticker tag and the cars start to queue behind each other, causing congestion at toll plazas.
The senator's brother, Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian, suspended NLEX Corp. after glitches in its RFID system caused heavy traffic in the city. With the barriers up, motorists were able to pass through the tollways in Valenzuela for free.
Cash lanes along NLEX are also expected to reopen in time for the holiday rush.
The Senate panel will hold a hearing on Thursday to investigate the oversight function the Toll Regulatory Board has been exercising over NLEX and the concession agreements between toll operators and the government, said the elder Gatchalian.
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