SMC appeals to DOTr: delay the deadline further
Explaining that the stretched timetable is not enough, the leadership of the San Miguel Corporation appealed to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to further extend the deadline on 100-percent cashless transactions at tollways.
SMC president Ramon Ang made the appeal after he said that there are still long queues of applicants that have yet to secure the RFID stickers.
“I have been monitoring the situation. We only have a few days to go, and yet our sticker installation sites are still packing long lines, especially this last weekend before implementation on December 1. Given the surge in last-minute applications we’re seeing, we don’t think we will be able to serve everyone. A large number of motorists will not make it to the December 1 deadline,” Ang said.
The appeal was also made despite efforts to fast-track the installation of stickers, which includes opening 100 additional sticker installation sites and implementing round-the-clock installation at major locations.
“My honest opinion is we will really need at least until February. And that is what we are asking government. To allow us to retain even just a few cash lanes until February,” Ang claimed.
“Majority of lanes at toll plazas can be ETC, because anyway, the tollway operators have complied and equipped all lanes for cashless transactions. We can then assign some lanes for continued stickering, and at least one lane for cash payments. This is in case traffic builds up due to long lines at stickering lanes. Some motorists can still opt to pay in cash, and just have their sticker installed on their next trip,” he added.
Further, he lauded the government for earlier extending the deadline and the decision to not fully enforce penalties until after January 11, saying it was the “right call.”
Ang also cited non-regular expressway users that are applying to beat the deadline are also adding to their burden.
“As the DOTr itself said, there really is no need to panic if you are a non-regular user of expressways. Even with the scheduled implementation on December 1, motorists with no stickers will not be apprehended. Also, stickering will continue at the toll plazas and installation sites. In fact, these will continue even after January,” the SMC chief noted.
“But given that many motorists still want to get their stickers as soon as possible, I think we can still accommodate them. Because anyway, those who have secured their stickers earlier will already realize the benefits of government’s mandate, and that is convenience and added safety. For those that have not been able to get theirs, I think we won’t lose anything by providing them some consideration. We hope government will study this option carefully. At the end of the day, we will abide by what they say,” Ang said.
Moreover, he assured that all lanes at toll plazas of its expressways—Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) Southern Luzon Expressway (SLEX) the Skyway System, NAIA Expressway, and the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX)—are fully equipped for the shift to full electronic toll collection for the deadline.
Not a usual user of SMC-managed expressways, Janine Olindo told Carmudi Philippines that she waited in line over the weekend for more than five hours to get an Autosweep Sticker for her car.
“I was there at 6AM and was applicant number 73. I have to wait for five and a half hours, what more to those who were at the back at the line and has to fill up forms just to get your RFID sticker?” Olindo said.
Photos from San Miguel Corporation, Janine Olindo