Valenzuela City – City Hall last week upended the business permit of North Luzon Expressway Corp. (NLEX) due to their continued failure to address the complaints of bonafide residents regarding the occurrence of the daily traffic gridlock inside the city and extending up to the toll highway.
This situation is being blamed on the shoddy implementation of the RFID scheme at their toll booths which brought vehicle movement to a virtual standstill and resulted in the loss of already-scarce revenues for taxpaying businessmen.
But it should be clarified that the order signed by Mayor Rex Gatchalian isn’t all-encompassing as it only covers NLEX’s operations within city limits, and doesn’t hold weight elsewhere.
In support, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, the mayor’s brother, demanded the head of the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) for his failure to act on the terrible traffic congestion in the area that hapless car owners have to deal with 24/7 due to NLEX’s ill-planned electronic toll collection system.
The TRB is the agency which is supposed to monitor the activities of the country’s toll roads.
“If you ask me, the TRB is really not functioning. Whoever is the head should resign and his post should be given to someone who knows the job,” the senator was quoted as saying.
Another brother, Valenzuela Representative Wes Gatchalian, called for the immediate stoppage of the RFID scheme until all the kinks are ironed out to the satisfaction of City Hall officials.
Adding fuel to the fire, House transportation committee chairman Rep. Edgar Sarmiento warned the TRB of a budget veto if it doesn’t get its act together fast. “We can still do something about the budget of the Department of Transportation, which is the mother agency of the TRB).
“I will do that if needed. That is our last card.”
Sarmiento said his committee had not been remiss in reminding the TRB regarding problems related to the RFID scheme, as far back as August 2020, but they didn’t care to listen.
Mayor Gatchalian personally served the suspension order at the Mindanao Ave. tollgate in Bgy. Ugong after the 5 p.m. deadline on Dec. 7 for the company to submit a suitable action plan to address the traffic woes had lapsed.
This means all barriers along the expressway will be lifted and all RFID sensors will be shut off as NLEX is no longer allowed to collect toll from tens of millions of motorists (from whom they earned at least P16 million in 2019).
Mayor Gatchalian said City Hall has the prerogative to crack the whip on NLEX in the interest of the public.
“Malaking perwisyo talaga. Instead of improving the lives of the people from whom they earn annually billions of pesos, nagiging pabigat na sila,” he said.