National Freeway Bureau to settle its ETC disputes

FREEWAY TOLLS::With delays in the construction of pay-as-you-go toll gantries on the nation’s freeways, the bureau has come down hard on the project’s contractor

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Dec 28, 2012 - Page 4

The National Freeway Bureau yesterday said it would seek to settle disputes over contract terms with Far Eastern Electronics Toll Collection Co (FETC) in an arbitration meeting to be held next week.

Based on the contracts, the freeway electronic toll collection system (ETC) contractor is obligated to complete construction of 370 gantries by the end of this year so the bureau can implement the “pay-as-you go” policy on the national freeways.

The scheme is scheduled to be launched next year.

The company has estimated that it could only finish 30 gantries by the end of this month.

The bureau has declared the company in breach of the terms of the contract.

It also rejected the company’s request to extend the deadlines.

FETC said that the construction of the gantries on the freeways was delayed because getting the National Communications Commission’s (NCC) approval for the company’s use of a radio frequency took longer than expected.

Legislators had also asked the company to halt the construction at one point, amid complaints about the rates motorists would have to pay after the government starts charging motorists by the number of kilometers traveled on the freeways.

The bureau said the arbitration committee is scheduled to meet on Thursday next week.

It said nine committee members not affiliated with either the bureau or the company would review the dispute.

FETC statistics showed there are more than 3 million ETC users in the nation after the company decided to switch from on-board units, which motorists had to purchase, to eTags, which are available free of charge.

The average usage rate has climbed to almost 70 percent.

To make it easier for motorists determine the balance on their ETC accounts, the company said it was scheduled to issue an “eTag Card” — a mini card with the barcodes of the ETC accounts — next week.

Users can take the cards to FamilyMart or FETC retail stores to find out how much they have left in their accounts.