NLEx suspension order, toll holiday stay in Valenzuela City

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 14) — Motorists can still freely pass through the tollways in Valenzuela City as the business permit of the North Luzon Expressway remains suspended on Monday, even after holding a meeting with the local government to address the glitches in the RFID system.

During the solutions meeting of NLEx representatives and Valenzuela City officials led by Mayor Rex Gatchalian, both parties have agreed to keep the suspension order until NLEx completes the system upgrade in the implementation of its Radio Frequency Identification system by Jan. 30, 2021 which had been the primary cause of traffic in tollways.

The firm must also be able to provide answers to the city's proposal to completely remove toll barriers, as Gatchalian noted that they would not be necessary if the cashless system is completely working.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority General Manager Jojo Garcia, who was also present in the meeting, supported the idea but also said that barriers can be raised during rush hour and lowered during curfew hours as a "win-win" solution.

"By January 30, you are to finish the upgrade of your account management system to significantly reduce all the complaints....[when it comes to] traffic, the ball is now on your court," Gatchalian told NLEx President Luigi Bautista.

Both parties have also agreed to restore cash lanes, relocate the RFID installation, and increase the RFID sensor wattage from the current four watts to eight watts within two weeks. They will also sign a memorandum of agreement on consumer welfare issues.

The two-hour meeting ended on a good note as the mayor added that he is willing to hold another dialogue to allow NLEx to respond to their "barriers up" proposal.

He said: "You have anytime you want, I will make myself available for further answers to our questions on the 'barriers up', and that will be the answer as to when we will lift the suspension."

"We appreciate that we were able to talk in this manner," Bautista said. "Open po iyong ating discussion and open din tayo to talk further hanggang maresolve po natin ito sa madaling panahon (We have an open discussion and we are open to talk further until we resolve this issue at the soonest time possible)."

The Valenzuela City government suspended the business permit of NLEx last Monday, citing complaints of motorists about faulty RFID sensors and other issues that worsened the traffic condition in the city.

CNN Phlippines Correspondent Tristan Nodalo contributed to this report.