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Saturday, February 24, 2024

200-truck convoy stages protest vs. NLEX toll hikes

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A convoy of some 200 trucks clogged Bonifacio Drive from Anda Circle in Intramuros to the Manila North Harbor on Friday to oppose the increase in toll rates at the North Luzon Expressway.

The parade caused major traffic jams that lasted for hours.

According to the Alliance of Concerned Truck Owners and Organizations (ACTOO), the toll hike is “unjustifiable and unfair” to motorists given the “worsening conditions” along the expressway.

They also deplored the timing of the toll increase, which they said is contrary to the government’s directives of reducing logistics costs since it will affect inflation.

The NLEX toll hike went into effect last June 15. The group said they have submitted an opposition letter to the Toll Regulatory Board.

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Policemen and traffic enforcers were deployed to control traffic and ensure peace and order during the protest action.

TOLL HIKE PROTEST. A convoy of organized truck drivers roll down the Bonifacio Drive in Port Area, Manila to drum up support for their protest against toll hikes at the North Luzon Expressway. Norman Cruz

The NLEX Corp., which manages the tollway, has yet to comment on the protest as of posting time.

The company said earlier that an additional P7 would be collected in the open system beginning June 15, while P0.36 per kilometer would be collected in the closed system. The Toll Regulatory Board has approved the rate adjustment.

Under the new toll fee matrix, an additional P7 will be charged on Class 1 vehicles, P17 for Class 2 vehicles, and P19 for Class 3 vehicles — the category that includes trucks.

Those traveling the whole stretch of NLEX between Metro Manila and Mabalacat City will pay an additional P33 for Class 1, P81 for Class 2, and P98 for Class 3 vehicles.

The open system covers the cities of Navotas, Valenzuela, and Caloocan in Metro Manila Manila and Meycauayan and Marilao in Bulacan province.

The closed system covers the portion between Bocaue, Bulacan, and Sta. Ines, Mabalacat City in Pampanga, including Subic-Tipo.

NLEX said the new rates were part of the authorized periodic adjustments due 2012, 2014, 2018, and 2020. This year’s adjustment is the fourth and last tranche of the 2012 and 2014 adjustments, it said.

NLEX also said it would continue to honor the discount given to public utility jeepneys under the NLEX Pass-ada and Tsuper Card programs.

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier blamed the “inaction” of previous administrations for the piled-up increases in the toll at the NLEX.

Diokno said the petitions were carefully studied and analyzed and approved objectively and fairly.

He said the government should perform its contractual obligations under the supplemental toll operation agreements.

“We’re promoting PPPs [public-private partnerships]. And the government will have no credibility as a partner if it does not comply with its contractual obligations under past PPP contracts,” Diokno said.

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