November 6, 2010
Toll fee hike petition for SCTex reeks of bad timing
Sen. Ralph G. Recto today questioned the timing of the toll hike petition of Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) for the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTex) while the expansive toll road is being turned over to a private concessionaire.
"Is the promise of a higher toll fee a welcome gift for the private operator?" Recto asked.
"The timing is suspect and patently ill-timed. BCDA is seeking a toll fee hike while it is in the middle of privatizing the operation and maintenance of SCTex?" he added.
Recto said the move of BCDA is tantamount to an "inconsiderate nanny suddenly abandoning her ward and leaving the poor baby at the mercy of a Nanny McPhee who charges a fortune."
He said the bases authority might have its priority misplaced by seeking a toll fee increase with the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), which will adversely impact on motorists still getting acquainted with the world-class features of SCTex.
"By world-class, we don't necessarily expect to be greeted at the toll gates with expensively world-class toll rates," he said.
"Instead of cajoling the new private operator to maintain present toll prices while in the months of transition, BCDA made sure that the private concessionaire will have an instant bonanza once they get onboard," Recto further pointed out.
Recto said BCDA must first ensure that it will be leaving the SCTex under the care of a new manager that would "take care of the clients and not be instrumental in taking advantage of them."
The senator urged the TRB to conscientiously study the toll hike petition and "better yet, reserve the pleasure of applying for a toll hike to the Metro Pacific Tollways Corp (MPTC) for being the new operator."
"Let the MPTC apply for its own toll increase in a future date. TRB may even provide some 'triggers' such as a toll hike could only be considered once an ideal number of users is reached or certain segment expansions are met," he insisted.
SCTex currently caters to only 24,000 motorists per day.
Recto said if the toll hike petition is approved, motorists using North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and SCTEx would be whipped with a "double whammy" since the same private operator is also seeking approval to increase tolls at NLEX by 12 percent.
BCDA's toll hike petition for SCTex would be higher by 12 percent or possibly an additional P3 to P4 per kilometre.
The MPTC has won the 25-year concession contract from BCDA to operate and maintain the 93.77-kilometer SCTex in exchange for P64.4 billion in concession fees during the duration of the contract.
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