Valenzuela City

‘Get your act together’: Valenzuela threatens NLEX Corporation over RFID fiasco

Aika Rey

CITY MAYOR. File photo of Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian.

Valenzuela City Government file photo

Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian says NLEX Corporation's business permit may be suspended

Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian threatened to suspend the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) operator’s business permit over issues regarding the implementation of the cashless transaction scheme at tollways.

In a strongly worded letter to NLEX Corporation COO Raul Ignacio, Gatchalian said that the tollway operator’s “primitive” RFID sensors are “causing harrowing traffic and wreaking havoc in Valenzuela City.”

Gatchalian said the traffic congestion spilled over to Valenzuela’s main thoroughfares, Maysan Road and MacArthur Highway.

“With the horrendous traffic situation in my city, I even personally spoke with you and called your attention regarding the ‘carmageddon’ in Valenzuela City. Yet you were even quick to deny the existence of the problem in spite of the multiple news in different channels and platforms,” Gatchalian said.

“Until you get your act together and perfect your existing tollway system, the City government may withdraw as your partner in your future planned expansions in our jurisdiction,” the city mayor added.

Valenzuela City gave NLEX Corporation 24 hours from the receipt of the letter to submit an action plan to solve the RFID mess. The letter was dated Thursday, December 3, but Gatchalian said it was served only this Friday, December 4.

Gatchalian also gave the NLEX operator 3 days to explain why its business permit should not be suspended.

The Valenzuela City mayor gave the ultimatum over NLEX Corporation’s “miserable failure” to comply with the obligations in the business permit, which, he said, “have caused atrocious traffic situation and disrupted the peace and order” in the city.

In a separate post, Gatchalian said that should NLEX Corporation’s business permit be suspended, motorists should still be able to use the expressway but the toll operator will not be able to collect payments.

In August, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) ordered all toll operators to shift to contactless payments in a bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The deadline was originally set in November but extended to December.

The cashless transaction scheme in tollways was fully implemented starting Tuesday, December 1. Sticking RFID tags was done at the expressways too, causing long lines at toll booths.

In a Wednesday, December 2 briefing, NLEX Corporation said that its system is “up to par” in terms of performance, saying that reports of glitches are considerably low compared to the average number of motorists passing through the expressway.

The Manny Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation is the holding company of NLEX, Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, Cavite Expressway, C5 Link, and Cavite-Laguna Expressway.

The Toll Regulatory Board on Wednesday admitted that the program had caused traffic congestion, but dismissed this as “birth pains” of the program. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.