TRB endorses truckers’ appeal for toll hike exemption

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TRB endorses truckers’ appeal for toll hike exemption
North Luzon Expressway. Photo from NLEX Corp.
  • The Toll Regulatory Board endorsed cargo truckers’ request for exemption from toll hikes at the North Luzon Expressway and Manila-Cavite Expressway
  • The request was made by the Alliance of Concerned Truck Owners and Organizations to expressway operators NLEX Corp. and Cavitex Infrastructure Corp
  • TRB executive director Atty. Alvin Carullo said the regulatory board agreed with the Inter-Agency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook Sub-Committee on Non-Food Inflation to consider the exemption from toll hikes of trucks that cater to agricultural goods 
  • ACTOO welcomed TRB’s endorsement but noted they want the exemption for all cargo trucks

The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) has endorsed the Alliance of Concerned Truck Owners and Organizations’ (ACTOO) request for exemption of cargo trucks from toll hikes at North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Manila-Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX).

In a letter dated October 4 to NLEX Corp., Cavitex Infrastructure Corp. (CIC) and Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), TRB executive director Atty. Alvin Carullo said the regulatory board has “agreed with the Inter-Agency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook (IAC-IMO) Sub-Committee on Non-Food Inflation to consider the exemption from toll rate increase of trucks that cater to agricultural goods such as vegetables.”

NLEX Corp. is the concessionaire of NLEX, while CIC and PRA are joint venture partners for CAVITEX.

TRB endorsed ACTOO’s request to the three agencies “as part of (their) study on the possibility of implementing such exemptions.”

The IAC-IMO, which includes the administration’s economic team, was created in March to address poverty and inflation in the country.

Carullo’s letter was in answer to a National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) letter dated September 26 which referred ACTOO’s concerns on the increase in toll rates at NLEX and CAVITEX to TRB.

In a text message to PortCalls, ACTOO vice president Rina Papa said they welcome TRB’s endorsement but noted they are “pushing for the exemption to be extended to all cargo trucks as all carry goods that are essential to economic activities.”

Papa added the country’s agriculture sector depends greatly on importation, and manufacturing industries rely on imported products.  “If we want to take measures that would contribute to the control of inflation, we must have a holistic perspective rather than resort [to] piecemeal solutions,” she said.

In its September 13 letter to NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, ACTOO sought government intervention and support for “both long and short-term solutions” to address truckers’ concerns, particularly on higher diesel prices, toll hikes at NLEX and CAVITEX, and pass-through fees and road use tax by local government units (LGU).

ACTOO called for the suspension of toll hikes, saying the incremental impact of such for the past five years for NLEX and recently for CAVITEX may have accounted for a staggering 20% of truckers’ operational costs.

TRB approved the toll rate adjustment for NLEX last June and authorized the implementation of an additional ₱7 in the open system and ₱0.36 per kilometer in the closed system.

Last August, CAVITEX began implementing its adjusted toll at the R-1 Expressway (Seaside to Zapote) and R-1 Expressway Extension, Segment 4 (Zapote to Kawit).

ACTOO, in its September 13 letter to NEDA, also “strongly suggests” reviewing what they described as NLEX Corp.’s management’s “poor performance” that has “failed public service and road management for a considerable amount of time now.”

RELATED READ: Trucking group seeks suspension of toll hikes, taxes on oil

NLEX Corp. earlier said the new rates underwent thorough regulatory reviews and approvals and were part of the authorized NLEX periodic adjustments due in 2012, 2014, 2018, and 2020.

TRB allowed NLEX to collect this year the fourth and last tranche of the 2012 and 2014 periodic adjustments and only half of the 2018 and 2020 increases to help “curb the existing inflationary situation and cushion their impact on the users of the expressway.”

ACTOO had much earlier called for NLEX Corp. to suspend and review again the implementation of a toll increase, saying they believe improvements in the expressway should come from the toll operator’s “earnings from previous years and not from additional rates.” ACTOO also noted various issues concerning traffic, pending projects, and RFID at toll gates.

In addition, the trucking group called for the suspension of all pass-through fees and road use tax by LGUs, which they said add substantial cost to the delivery of goods and “also hamper their distribution as well, thereby posing threats to food security and the health of the national economy in general.”

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr recently banned the collection of pass-through fees being levied by local government units on national roads and any other forms of fees from all types of vehicles transporting goods.