THE government is looking at two options to resolve the issues surrounding the toll increase that highway operators are asking to impose on motorists.
One is to pay for the costs of road improvements, the other to extend concession of the toll operators. But the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) are still undecided on the matter.
“Wala pa. [None yet]. All possibilities are under study. We’ll wait for the decision of the board. It’s relatively a novel way of approaching it under our circumstances, Edmund Reyes, TRB executive director told reporters at the sidelines of the opening of the Muntinlupa-Cavite Extension (MCX) over the weekend.
“Hopefully, we’ll decide how to move forward and provide as many options as possible,” he added, noting that an increase in toll fees is provided for under the contract between the government and the private sector.
The legal basis for raising the toll fees is being scrutinized by the board, Reyes noted.
“One option is to pay the company whatever it used to improve the road. So it will not have an impact on the tariff. In effect, it will be handled by the national government,” Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson said.
In February, the Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) revealed it failed to meet its P8-billion revenue goal because it was not allowed raise the toll fees.
MNTC President Rodrigo Franco and Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. President Ramoncito Fernandez said they find it difficult to achieve the revenue goal.
The North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) has an average traffic volume of 180,000 vehicles per day, the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) has 28,000 and the Manila-Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX) has 101,000.
According to its concession agreement, which allows for toll adjustments every two years, MNTC was supposed to raise its toll fees by 11 percent in January 2013.
Last November, the company said the failure to hike toll fees would translate to P1.8 billion in revenue losses.
MNTC filed a petition before the TRB for an adjustment of toll rates for NLEX, which was supposed to happen on January 1, 2015 under its concession terms.
MNTC said the rate adjustment is on top of an earlier petition in 2012, which was supposed to have taken place in January 2013. The latest petition would bring the cumulative toll rate adjustment to 15 percent, of which 12 percent is long overdue.
MPTC and MNTC are subsidiaries of Metro Pacific Investment Corp. (MPIC). Manuel Pangilinan, who is also MPIC president, said the contract has been renegotiated two times and is now on its third year.