A senator has slammed the TRB for RFID mess

In the recent senate hearing on implementation of the radio-frequency identification (RFID) on tollways, Senator Win Gatchalian (elder brother of Valenzuela City mayor Rex Gatchalian who suspended NLEX Corporation’s business permits), slammed the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) for its overall failure of leadership and failure of enforcement of regulatory officials in charge of the expressways.

Bakit tayo umabot sa ganito? Kung may regulator na itinalaga, pinapasweldo, may opisina at may kapangyarihan sa kanyang charter, bakit umabot sa ganito? Inagrabyado natin ang mga motorista. (How did it come to this? If there’s a regulator assigned, is being paid, holds office, and has powers under its charter, why did it get this bad? The motorists are suffering.) Sec. Tugade should crack the whip. The MOA is useless, it's a mere toilet paper,” Gatchalian said.

Senators were also told during the hearing that the mandatory cashless toll collection proceeded even without any clear-cut policy. There were no sanctions set for erring toll operators, neither was there a plan for installation sites and reloading lanes. Finally, the operators did not check the system for glitches.

Department of Transportation (DOTr) secretary, Arthur Tugade, noted the ineptness in overseeing the accountability of toll operators due to the absence of any specific sanctions or penalties and key performance indicators. Tugade sits as the chairman of the board in the TRB, the executive director of which is Abraham Sales.

Sales, on the other hand, has told the committee that the matter of the glitches in the RFID system was only discussed in a consultation meeting after the DOTr issued Department Order (DO) No. 2020-012 – the policy mandating cashless transactions in all toll roads in the country beginning December 1, 2020. He admitted that those glitches are still being addressed by toll operators, even after almost a month since the December 1, 2020 cashless toll deadline.