SMC, TRB clash over Skyway 3 toll collection

MANILA, Philippines—A row erupted between conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) over the regulator’s “inaction” on the SMC petition to gather any toll and a disagreement on completion milestones of the large Skyway Stage 2 elevated expressway in Metro Manila.

This culminated in SMC unit Skyway O&M Corp. saying on Twitter late night on Monday  (March 15) that it could indefinitely shut the Skyway 3 till it met authorities necessities, shocking hundreds of motorists, who use the expressway, and even the TRB, which had been blamed for issuing the directive to the conglomerate.

SMC recalled the announcement on Tuesday (March 16) earlier than implementing the closure, branding the incident as a “misunderstanding” whereas scoring the TRB for stopping the collection of toll as a result of SMC has but to hit its goal completion degree for Skyway 3.

At the identical time, TRB spokesman Julius Corpus denied that the board issued a closure directive and stated Skyway 3 ought to stay open to serve motorists.  A TRB member stated the collection of toll could be taken up at a gathering subsequent week.

SMC president Ramon S. Ang stated on Tuesday that losses have been mounting “because TRB keeps delaying the start of toll collection.”

“We need sufficient funds for the toll road’s daily maintenance, proper long-term upkeep and to keep it safe and efficient for the motoring public,” Ang stated in a press release, including he had defined the state of affairs to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.

Ang stated the P80 billion mission was absolutely financed by SMC and requires P10 billion a 12 months to function.

The Skyway 3 has been partially operational because the center of 2019 and finally had its delicate opening on Dec. 29, 2020, when SMC promised to waive charges for a month. The toll street, which serves about 60,000 motorists per day, was inaugurated by President Rodrigo Duterte final Jan. 14.

Upon inauguration, the complete stretch from Buendia, Makati City to Balintawak, Quezon City was prepared to be used however most ramps, which function entry factors to the toll street, have been nonetheless closed.

According to Ang, this was a key motive for the dispute.

He stated the TRB insisted that 100% of Skyway 3’s ramps needs to be completed even when the SMC contract allowed it to gather toll solely when 95 % of your complete mission has been completed.

“The quickest way for our infrastructure unit to speed up 100 percent completion of the ramps would have been to close Skyway 3,” Ang stated.

To date, Skyway 3 is 97 % full, Ang added.

SMC stated on Tuesday that 10 of the 26 ramps have been open and these comprised a “small portion” of the mission and didn’t have an effect on the 97 % completion charge.

In an interview, Corpus stated he was not conscious of any TRB requirement for SMC to complete 100% of Skyway 3 earlier than it could possibly acquire toll. He added that TRB by no means sought the closure of the mission.

“Their announcement was an unexpected matter because we were not aware of any such directive to close Skyway 3,” he informed the Inquirer.

Corpus, nevertheless, confirmed that SMC and TRB’s technical personnel had a gathering on March 15.

He defined that earlier than the TRB can subject the authority to gather, the concessionaire should adjust to a number of necessities, together with assembly the 95 % completion charge, security checks and readiness to function commercially.

He stated the assembly on March 15 was on Skyway 3’s industrial readiness, which entails putting in the toll collection system and testing for glitches.

As of Monday, SMC was nonetheless within the strategy of finishing the set up, testing and commissioning of the programs, Corpus stated.

Raymundo Junia, non-public sector consultant on the TRB, stated the board would take up SMC’s petition of their subsequent assembly.

“I requested the board meeting for Monday or Tuesday,” he informed the Inquirer. “This should have been approved two weeks ago.”

Junia stated he understood SMC’s place as a result of it wanted to get well prices and spend on upkeep. He additionally famous that TRB had authorised provisional toll for different expressway tasks prior to now.

“I cannot blame SMC for taking that decision [on possibly closing Skyway 3] because motorists are using the road,” Junia stated.

Apart from Junia, the TRB is run by representatives from the Department of Transportation, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Finance, and National Economic and Development Authority.

Clarifications raised by some TRB members may result in delays in making selections.

For instance, the Skyway’s completion charge was earlier licensed at 97 % by an unbiased guide however a board member needed to additional validate these findings, Junia stated, with out naming the person.

Toll at Skyway 3 may attain as much as P247 for your complete stretch of the elevated expressway.

Junia, additionally chair of the TRB’s technical working group, stated he was in opposition to excessive toll however he thought-about the quantity a “fair rate”.

“That includes their cost of construction and maintenance costs,” Junia stated.

In his assertion, Ang stated SMC had “revised the original proposed fare matrix to significantly lower toll rates.”

“In good faith, during our earlier discussions with TRB, we lowered the proposed toll rates significantly,” Ang stated.

“Basically, we took out and deferred collection of most of the cost of right-of-way acquisition. After that, we lowered the rates even further, so that people travelling short distances would pay much less,” he added.


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