Thursday, October 21, 2004

NR1021:NLEX toll rates hiked by 388%

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltran
News Release October 21, 2004
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, chief of staff
SCelphone number 09213907362

Rep. Beltran calls Lopez company's 388- 510 percent increase in toll rates in
the Northern Luzon Expressway highway robbery

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran expressed vehement opposition to the
plans of the Manila North Tollways (MNTC) Corp, new operators of the 83.7-km
North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) to impose a 388% percent increase in toll rates.
The MNTC has announced that the rate increase will be imposed once the
ehabilitation work in the entire stretch in completed in December. The
corporation is justifying the increase by saying that the road improvements
aims to provide safety features such as efficient traffic management, lighting,
cameras and strict enforcement of traffic rules to reduce the number of

The basic toll rates for Class 1 vehicles - cars, jeepneys, mega taxis and vans
- plying the route to Marilao, Bulacan, to Sta. Ines, Pampanga, will be pegged
at P2.49 km from Marilao to Sta Ines, and a flat rate of P42 from Balintawak to
Marilao. These vehicle will pay P200 for the whole stretch of the NLEX. This
is a whopping 388 percent increase from the current rate of P41.

Class 2 vehicles - buses and light trucks - will pay P500 for the whole stretch,
or 510 percent more than the present P82 toll rate. Class 3 vehicles, or heavy
trucks, will pay 288 percent more at P600 from the current P123.

MNTC is 70 percent owned by the Lopez group (of Meralco and Maynilad)
corporation's First Philippine Infrastructure Development Corpororation. The
other shareholders are Egis Trans and Leighton Asia Ltd. The MNTC has
constructed additional 138 additional new-lane kilometers increasing the number
to 433 to accommodate more vehicles and reduce traffic congestion.

Beltran said that there was no doubt that the improvements the MNTC is making
to the NLEX will benefit motorists; but, he added, the terrible downside was
that they will be made to pay through the nose for all the improvements for
years to come.

"Clearly it's the infamous and greedy profit-motive that's at work here, and not
public service. There's no debate that the MNTC has invested billions in
improving the NLEX; but it's appalling and horrible that it is such in a
tearing hurry to recoup all its expenditures by imposing a gargantuan increase
in toll rates," he said. "The NLEX improvements will not be enjoyed at all by
motorists once they realize that they'll be paying a minimum of 388% increase
just to pass through the NLEX," he said.

The veteran labor leader said that the immediate impact of the toll rate hike
would be increases in bus fares and other transportation costs which would all
be saddled on consumers and the public utility vehicle-using public. He said
that it already costs an arm and a leg to travel from Manila to Bulacan one
way, "Now the transport fares will even be more painful on the budget," he

Beltran said that the national government should make moves to purchase the NLEX
from the MNTC and stop the privatization of both the NLEX and the Southern Luzon
Express Way. He said that the concessionaire-relationship between the
government and the MNTC was abusive, and the public is the most being

He also said that at the onset, the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) should thumb
down the MNTC's proposal for a rate increase. He also said that a temporary
restraining order should be laid down against the MNTC's toll increase - "At
the least, it should 2 years before the MNTC is allowed to jack toll rates.
There's no way that the MNTC will not be able to recover every single centavo
in spent on the NLEX improvements within a year of operations on the current
rates alone. It's unjust that it wants to recover its expenses so quickly.
It's literal high-way robbery," he said.#


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