Sunday, February 13, 2005

NR0211: Suspend MNTC toll fee hike

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release February 11, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
Cellphone number 09213907362

Solon calls for suspension of 400% toll fee hike in Northern Luzon Express Way; says Lopez owners committing literal highway robbery

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today demanded that House committees on privatization and transportation and communication immediately look into the complaints of motorists regarding the exorbitant fees being charged by the Manila North Tollways Corp. he said that the hike in toll fees should be immediately suspended pending investigations on whether such a 400% increase in fees is justified. He has already filed House Resolution 358 on the matter, calling investigations into what he terms as the MNTC's "literal highway robbery."

The MNTC is justifying the increase by saying that the road improvements it has implemented aims to provide safety features such as efficient traffic management, lighting, cameras and strict enforcement of traffic rules to reduce the number of accidents.

MNTC is 70 percent owned by the Lopez group (of Meralco and Maynilad) corporation's First Philippine Infrastructure Development Corporation. 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 is no doubt that the improvements the MNTC is making to the NLEX will benefit motorists; but, the terrible downside is that they will be made to pay through the nose for all the improvements for years to come.

"It's more of the greedy profit-motive that's at the core of the increased toll fees, and not the spirit of public service. They say that there is 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.

Beltran 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. Commuters decry the fact that it already costs an arm and a leg to travel from Manila to Bulacan one way, now, with the increase in toll fees, the transport fares will even be more painful on the budget.

"The Macapagal-Arroyo government should should make moves to purchase the NLEX from the MNTC and stop the privatization of both the NLEX and the Southern Luzon Express Way. It is apparent that the concessionaire-relationship between the government and the MNTC is abusive, and the public is the most being exploited," he said.
The veteran labor leader turned lawmaker also said that congress should urge the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB)to thumb down the MNTC's proposal for a rate increase. At the least, it should 2 years should pass before the MNTC is allowed to jack toll rates. #


Post a Comment

<< Home