Citing health and safety issues bugging vehicle owners, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco called on the Department of Transportation Monday to further extend the deadline for the installation of Radio Frequency Identification for vehicles using tollways in Luzon.
Velasco urged the DOTR to give vehicle owners until the first quarter to have their vehicles registered for RFID.
“At the rate things are going, I don’t think all 6.1 million registered vehicles in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon will be provided with RFID stickers by Jan. 11, 2021,” Velasco said.
According to Velasco, the fact remains that many vehicle owners still worry about COVID-19 that they are constrained from having their vehicles apply for RFID stickers.
“It would be more practicable if the deadline is further extended to March 31, 2021 to give all our motorists enough time to secure the stickers for the cashless payment system given that we are still in a pandemic where movement of people is limited,” he said.
Velasco joined the snowballing call for extended RFID registration as he noticed traffic gridlocks in various expressway since the start of the cashless payment in various expressways last Dec. 1.
The Speaker shared the observations made by the House Committee on Transportation, which conducted a motu proprio hearing last Nov. 25 in anticipation of the problems arising from the implementation of the cashless payment scheme at tollways.
Based on its calculation, the committee said it would take more than two years for all vehicles using the tollways to be provided with the RFID stickers.
Earlier, Samar Rep. Edgar Sarmiento, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, noted that Thailand and Indonesia took a year and a half on the average to be fully cashless.
“In comparison, it’s been barely five months from the issuance of the (DOTr’s) Department Order 2020-012 since the implementation of cashless payment,” Sarmiento explained.
During a recent hearing of the transportation panel, it was also bared that the RFID Reader Equipment Machines of the North Luzon Expressway have yet to be upgraded.
“The concerned agencies should have ensured first the feasibility of going cashless in the amount of time given to vehicle owners,” Velasco said.
He added: “Instead, the implementation on Dec. 1 looked like a dry-run. This defeats the purpose of having our tollways becoming efficient in going cashless.”