“Amid a raging pandemic, public health and safety cannot take the back seat in favor of convenience.”
This is the main argument of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) as the agency rejects the clamor to defer the implementation of the 100% cashless transactions policy on major tollways. The rule is scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2020.
In a statement, the DOTr said the fully cashless system has been long overdue, and that there’s no valid reason to delay it further because the government and the two tollway operators—Metro Pacific Tollway Corporation and San Miguel Corporation—are already working hand-in-hand to hash out any interoperability issues. The DOTr described Department Order No. 2020-012, which refers to the full use of RFIDs on tollways, as “a matter of extreme importance.”
Any delay in the implementation would only increase the vulnerability of not only the motoring public, but the tollway personnel as well, the agency added. Considering the policy was originally scheduled to take effect on November 1, the DOTr emphasized that the one-month extension accorded to motorists gives them “ample time” to avail Easytrip and Autosweep RFID stickers.
Recently, Representative Wes Gatchalian asked for for the implementation of the cashless system to be suspended in view of mounting complaints from motorists over shortages in electronic tags, technical glitches with sensors at toll plazas, non-issuance of official receipts for RFID load, double charging of toll fees, and so on.
Earlier this year, Gatchalian filed House Bill No. 6119, which will require private tollway operators to comply with the requirements for interoperability within six months after the law is enacted. Otherwise, the companies will be made to pay a P5,000 fine for each day of non-compliance.
But the DOTr won’t budge. Instead, its officials directed the two tollway companies and the Toll Regulatory Board to “engage with and coordinate with private toll operators to thresh out issues, the necessary operational measures, and present solutions, in order to fully realize the interoperability project.”
And if the time comes that Gatchalian’s proposed measure is enacted into law, the DOTr is optimistic all the necessary requirements will be in place.