No contact apprehension in tollways pushed

Published September 13, 2021, 4:51 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

An infrastructure-oriented think tank is calling on the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to implement a “no contact apprehension” system in the country’s major tollways as more Metro Manila cities embrace technology in managing traffic.

Bocaue barrier at the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX). (FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Infrawatch PH convenor Terry Ridon cited the implementation of no contact apprehension systems in Manila and Parañaque which he said have been proven vital in reducing ground-level corruption as traffic enforcers are no longer required to enforce traffic rules.

Aside from reducing corruption, Ridon said consistent revenue for local governments is also ensured as these systems implement “efficient and constant operations 24/7.”

“These twin objectives should be the guide of the DOTr and its attached agencies to implement the same in our tollways,” he added.

The former House transportation committee member said the push for a no contact apprehension system in tollways is rooted in the “failure” of Valenzuela City’s barriers-up policy aimed at preventing unscrupulous non-paying motorists from exploiting the tollway system.

“While the intention of Valenzuela to ensure the seamless flow of traffic is laudable, this is the big picture: at least 8,000 motorists are exploiting the barriers up policy within the NLEX open system every day. This constitutes a revenue loss of P500,000 per day and more importantly, a loss of value-added tax revenue of P18.7 million per year,” Ridon noted.

According to Ridon, he received reports that most motorists exploiting the system are public utility vehicles, with revenue loss amounting to at least P15,000 per unit.

Once implemented, Ridon said the no contact apprehension system will put a rest to these risks and ensure that Valenzuela’s barriers-up policy will remain viable.

Ridon said the DOTr has yet to issue regulations implementing a no contact apprehension in tollways, as most of these systems are only being implemented at the local government unit (LGU) level.

“We urge Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to champion the cause of innovation in the transport sector and order the issuance of no contact apprehension regulations in our toll roads. The Toll Regulatory Board and the Land Transportation Office should work together to implement [these] systems in the soonest time,” he said.

Ridon also urged Valenzuela City LGU to enact similar ordinances covering roads and tollways within its jurisdiction.

“Valenzuela LGU can also champion innovation in the road sector by passing local legislation allowing no contact apprehension systems in all its roads, including toll roads. With Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian’s leadership, we believe this can be done in the soonest time,” he added.