Motorists plying the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) will have to face the inevitable on August 16, when the long-stalled toll rate increase of 233 percent is enforced.
South Luzon Tollway Corporation (SLTC) Spokesperson Alma Tuazon said owners of Class 1 vehicles will have to pay P77 from the current rate of P22 for the use of the 29-kilometer Alabang-Calamba expressway.
Class 2 and 3 vehicles will pay P155 and P232, respectively, when the toll hike is implemented.
The 233-percent toll hike translates to roughly P2.73 per kilometer from the original rate of P0.82 for Class 1 vehicles which make up most of the traffic along SLEx.
“If you come to think about it, our original rate is less than the cost of a canned softdrink and the new one will be less than the cost of two bottles of beer. With the upgrades and rehabilitation made in the SLEx, the toll hike is only just,” Tuazon said.
She assured the public that the inevitable toll hike will be justified by the rehabilitation and upgrades done along SLEx.
Aside from the road widening from four to six lanes, the rehabilitated SLEX now boasts facilities like electronic message boards, lighting fixtures, closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, and median barriers.
She said the SLTC was only able to rehabilitate and upgrade the SLEx with full funding from its parent company, MTD Capital Bhd. of Malaysia.
It was recalled that the SLTC and its Malaysian investors had deferred the implementation of the toll hike twice even though the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) already gave its go-signal.
The first was on June 30 in deference to the inauguration of President Aquino and the second was last July 7, when SLTC announced that it has voluntarily deferred the toll hike indefinitely.
But Sunday, Tuazon claimed that the Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) already gave its consent to the implementation of the SLEx toll hike on August 16.
DOTC Public Information Division chief Undersecretary Dante Velasco said Secretary Jose “Ping” De Jesus confirmed that the toll hike will push through on August 16.
“The implementation or postponement is not a matter of the secretary’s consent. He was just able to convince the Toll Regulatory Board and the SLTC to defer the implementation of the new toll rates until August 16. To postpone it again will be a breach of contract, considering that the new rates were already approved, unless the concessionaire (SLTC) postpones it again,” Velasco said.
Velasco also clarified that the DOTC does not consider the realigned toll rates as an increase, saying it is a mere introductory fee for the use of a new road.
“The secretary would like to clarify that there is no increase contrary to what is reported by the media because the new toll rates are approved for the use of a new road. The DOTC considers the rehabilitated SLEx a new road,” he added.
“We have been very considerate with the new administration. We have been cooperating with them, doing our part on the contract with the government. We are hoping that the toll hike will no longer be postponed because it translates to millions of losses incurred daily. We are confident that the new administration will be fair and law abiding,” Tuazon said.
Given the looming toll hike, Tuazon said the SLTC will continue to be considerate to the government by not immediately imposing the toll among motorists that will use the SLEx link to the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR).
A four-lane eight-kilometer facility, the SLEx-STAR link is already operational but is still not open to the public while the SLTC awaits the go-signal from the Philippine government.