THE provisional toll hike imposed on vehicles using the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) is not enough to recoup the cost of expanding the tollway system, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) said.
MPIC is the parent company of Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) which operates NLEX, Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) and the Manila-Cavite Expressway (Cavitex).
“It is not enough. We’re very much behind in the toll rates, but our commitment to build new roads, we cannot back out from that,” MPIC President and Chief Executive Officer Jose Ma. Lim said in a chance interview.
“We will not waiver in our commitment,” Lim added.
On November 6, a provisional toll hike on the NLEx was implemented as approved by the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB).
From EDSA Balintawak or Mindanao Avenue to Sta. Ines, Mabalacat City, the toll for Class 1 vehicles was raised by P18, while those for Class 2 vehicles (buses and trucks) and Class 3 (large trucks or trailers) was raised by P46 and P56, respectively.
The toll hike met with opposition in Congress. Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said the TRB failed to protect the interest of Filipinos “by entering into a contract which charges exorbitant toll fees.”
“The government should stop these wanton increases in rates as it would be an additional burden to the people who are already bearing the brunt of high prices of basic services and would just redound to enormous profits of the expressway owners given that it is an automatic increase even if the expressway owners are already earning billions in toll collections,” Zarate added.
Lim explained that the increase in the toll charges was needed to recoup the P3.7-billion cost incurred by MPTC for its enhancement program which aims to boost the capacity of its expressways.
“That adjustment is for the cost of expanding the toll roads. It’s the only way we can keep up with the demand. If we don’t raise the toll rates, it is very difficult for us to convince our creditors to support us in building new roads,” Lim said.