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The largest group of real estate developers and other stakeholders in the housing sector has joined the bid of Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian to urgently end the traffic mess caused by the RFID toll booth systems saying the actions taken so far by the local chief executive are both commendable and decisive not only for his constituency but also for the millions of motorists who have been suffering for many years.
In a letter to Mayor Gatchalian, the Chamber of Real Estate & Builders’ Associations, Inc. (CREBA) lamented the horrendous traffic, in major arterial roads such as the privately-operated NLEX and SLEX, no less, stretching to everywhere else in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces, that it said has long been a “pandemic of its own.”The group said there is an urgent need to review not only the systems of the country’s private toll operators but the country’s entire transportation policy to bring an end to the usual “carmageddon” that rob our people of millions in precious time and lost opportunities every day.
CREBA national chairman Charlie A. V. Gorayeb explained that in SLEX for example, in what he called as “a guise” of improving traffic services and widening the expessways, access to service roads have radically diminished to the detriment of those who cannot afford the exorbitant toll rates. And yet, the LGUs of Muntinlupa, San Pedro, Binan and Taguig have not acted upon the problem.
Going North, he observed that since the toll roads have been developed and continuously extended, the national government has practically neglected to improve McArthur Hi-way from Caloocan to Malolos and Clark, when all these toll roads mainly utilize government lands and road right-of-ways.
Gorayeb said that the cashless payment system, which was supposed to make the system “user-friendly,”in effect requires motorists to pay in advance, raking in huge cash hoards for the toll operators with virtually zero need to collect. One columnist estimated that at least 800-million pesos will be cashed in just by issuing RFID cards to some 4-million cars.
Gorayeb went on to question who the actual beneficiaries of the new system will be, citing that the events that led to the eventual cancellation of NLEX’s permit to operate in Valenzuela including the long lines in RFID installation areas indicate it is in no way convenient and hassle-free to motorists. The CREBA leader likewise wondered why government regulators such as the Department of Transportation and the Toll Regulatory Board were easily convinced to approve a system that has been flawed from the very beginning.
CREBA expressed its support for Mayor Gatchalian’s initiative and hopes to see the immediate resolution of this issue and the entire traffic problem in the country, an issue close to the heart of the housing industry as accessibility to places of residence and various human activities play a major role in the development of communities.
This article was originally published by Manila Bulletin.