The National Freeway Bureau yesterday said it is seeking to settle a dispute over the delayed installation of the gantries for the freeway electronic toll collection (ETC) system.
A new policy that charges freeway drivers by kilometers traveled, rather than by the number of toll booths passed, is to be implemented soon and requires gantries equipped with the ETC system to be installed along freeways to accurately bill the drivers.
Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co (FETC), the contractor in charge of operating the ETC system, was supposed to finish installing all the gantries by Sept. 21 last year.
However, construction was delayed because the National Communications Commission spent a long time reviewing the contractor’s application for the use of a radio frequency amid concern that the frequency used by the freeway e-Tag system would interfere with that used by fourth-generation (4G) telecommunication service towers.
Citing the delay as force majeur, the contractor was given permission to postpone the construction deadline until Jan. 21. The bureau then sent a notice to the company on Feb. 3 that construction had to be finished by April 21 or it would be penalized NT$500,000 (US$16,600) a day, adding that the tally of days for the fine would be counted starting from the day the notice was sent.
However, the FETC said the fine should be calculated from April 21 and the penalty should be set at NT$250,000 per day. The contract signed by the bureau and the company states that the daily penalty for delays in the construction stage of the project is NT$250,000 per day. The contract adds that the amount may be raised to NT$500,000 when the contractor starts operating the ETC system.
The bureau said it considers that the FETC has already begun operating the ETC system, but the contractor insists that it was in the construction stage because the gantries were installed for the new freeway tolling policy.
According to the bureau, the construction firm should be fined NT$72.50 million for the 145 days that the project was delayed.
Meanwhile, the contractor says that construction was only delayed by 68 days and it should only be fined NT$17 million.