San Miguel Corp. (SMC) said a planned toll-hike for the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) was suspended due to the recent problems with heavy traffic at the expressway.
In a radio interview over DZMM, SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang said the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) owes about PHP7.6-billion to his company as of end of September, which they planned on collecting through an increase in toll fees which they decided to scrap.
“Marami ‘ho tayo collectible sa gobyerno tungkol dito sa tollway. Pero hindi naman ako makwentang tao eh. Nakikita ko ma-trapik (We have many collectibles from the government with regards to the tollway. But I’m not that ‘querulous’. I can see there’s traffic),” Ang said.
This, following the recent call of lawmakers to suspend or lower toll fees at SLEX due to the daily vehicular congestion experienced by motorists in the expressway.
The SMC official said the over PHP7-billion debt accumulated following the previous toll hike in 2012.
“Yung increase na ‘yan since 2012 hanggang ngayon hindi pa kami binabayaran. At yung NLEX (North Luzon Expressway), binigyan na nila ng toll rate increase last month. Kami rin due for another increase (The increase since 2012 we still haven’t been paid. And NLEX– they were given a toll rate increase last month. We are also due for another increase),” Ang said.
However, Ang said the SMC’s focus was on solving the current traffic situation in the Alabang area of the beleaguered expressway.
“Hindi po importante sa akin yung paghahabol ng kita. Ang importante mai-deliver ko sa taong-bayan (It’s not important to me to have revenue. What’s important is we deliver to the people) by December 1st — which is one and a half month from now — yung traffic solution sa (the traffic solution to) Alabang area,” Ang said.
When asked about the recent call of Laguna 3rd District Rep. Marisol “Sol” Aragones to suspend or lower toll at SLEX for six months, Ang said such measures will have no effect on improving traffic at SLEX and the toll hike suspension was already made to ease the burden on motorists.
“Yung mga humihiling ng discount o suspension of toll fee — let’s say suspendihin natin yung toll fee bukas, magbabago ba yung traffic? Hindi naman (For those calling for a discount or suspension of toll fees — let’s say we suspend the toll fee tomorrow, will there be changes in traffic? There won’t be),” Ang said.
“Magaan na nga pakiramdam nila kasi hindi kami nagtaas ng toll fee since 2012, kaya ang utang nga sa amin ng gobyerno ay PHP7.6-billion na (They should feel better because we didn’t increase the toll fee since 2012, that’s why the government owes us PHP7.6-billion already),” he added.
On the same day, South Luzon Tollway Corporation (SLTC) and Skyway Operation and Maintenance Corp. (SOMCO) president Manuel Bonoan said traffic at SLEX will return to normal by end of November.
Starting September 25, heavy traffic was experienced by motorists due to the closing of one lane in the north-bound portion of the SLEX from Alabang towards Muntinlupa to make way for the construction of the Skyway extension project. (PNA)