NLEX operator seeks toll hike, cites expansion work

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An NLEX toll booth is seen in October 2016 InterAksyon file photo.

MANILA – The operator of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) is seeking approval to increase toll for expansion work it has undertaken.

Manila North Tollways Corporation (MNTC) is seeking an increase of 27 centavos per kilometer for the stretch between Bocaue up to Sta. Ines or Dau.

MNTC cited the 33-kilometer additional lane it built between Sta. Rita, San Fernando and Sta. Ines.

If the rate hike were approved, that means the P208 paid by those entering NLEX at Balintawak and exiting at Dau at the end of the expressway will be higher by P20, or P228.

The application is besides the 21% toll increasethat is in arbitration in Singapore after the Philippine government objected to that particular toll hike.

Some lawmakers are opposing the latest toll hike application because, they insist, the contract with MNTC covers the construction and repair of the NLEX roadway.

Bulacan Rep. Apol Pancho, said the tollways operator had claimed the hike application is warranted “dahil meron daw po silang ginagawang [because they’re doing] improvements and maintenance.”

But, Pancho said, “naniniwala po tayo na yun ay part po ng investment nila, at any improvements po at maintenance na ginagawa nila ay talagang nakapaloob po sa kontrata [we believe that’s part of their investment, and any improvements they’re doing is covered by their contract already].”

Not so, asserted MNTC president Rodrigo Franco in a phone interview. “This adheres to our agreement with the government; and another thing – the most important – before we began this project there was a specific proposal which detailed all the costs involved and what is covered in the scope of the project,” Franco said, speaking partly in Filipino.

Franco said the Toll Regulatory Board approved all these “before we began the project.”

MNTC said their contract does not include the addition of lanes in the expressway as part of their investment, and thus, they should be allowed to hike rates for these.

Pancho is set to file a new resolution in Congress to tackle the new toll hike application.