TOLL road operator NLEX Corp. said on Thursday it would relocate some of its radio-frequency identification (RFID) installation and reloading stations from toll plazas in Valenzuela City to ease traffic congestion in the area.

In an e-mailed statement, the company said it would transfer the existing RFID sticker installation and account reloading stations in the Karuhatan and Mindanao toll plazas “in order to improve traffic flow in the nearby areas.”

On Monday, the Valenzuela City government suspended NLEX Corp.’s business permit for the Karuhatan-Mindanao Avenue Toll Plaza, Karuhatan-Harborlink Toll Plaza, Karuhatan-MacArthur Highway Sub-Exit, Mindanao Avenue Toll Plaza, Paso de Blas Toll Plaza North Bound, Paso de Blas Toll Plaza South Bound, and Lawang Bato Toll Booth.

Valenzuela City Mayor Rex T. Gatchalian wants the company to present “clear and concrete solutions” to issues encountered by NLEX users before lifting the permit suspension, which prohibits the company from collecting fees at those toll booths. 

In his letter to the company on Dec. 9, Mr. Gatchalian noted there are RFID stickers that easily wear out, sensors that cannot promptly read RFID stickers, and missing and/or untimely crediting of loads, among others. 

“We have prepared our action plans to address these concerns,” NLEX Corp. said.

“While the first day of the full implementation of the Department of Transportation (DoTR) Order 2020-12 requiring cashless and contactless transactions on 1 December combined with the surge of Manila-bound commuters from the long holiday, the seasonal build-up, the lifting of the truck ban and number coding scheme caused inconvenience and delays, nevertheless, we wish to assure our customers that we will continue working hard to improve their daily expressway journey,” it added.

In a separate statement, the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) said it would partner with the Toll Regulatory Board and local government units involved in the ongoing issues on the RFID system.

“ARTA plans to submit recommendations to improve toll operations in the Philippines,” it said.

ARTA added it would call for a hearing with both the management of NLEX and South Luzon Expressway “in the coming days.”

NLEX Corp. is under Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., a unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which is one of the three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd. The two others are PLDT, Inc. and Philex Mining Corp. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., maintains interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Arjay L. Balinbin