By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter
THE Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) said it is currently validating San Miguel Corp.’s (SMC) claim that the Skyway Stage 3 is now 97% complete, as part of the requirements before it could start collecting fees.
“The percentage of completion is just one of the requirements stipulated in the contract for them to be allowed to collect tolls,” TRB Spokesperson Julius Corpus told BusinessWorld in a phone message on Wednesday.
For SMC to be allowed to collect fees, its project should be at least 95% complete, he added.
According to SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang, the Skyway Stage 3 is “97% complete.” The TRB, Mr. Corpus said, is “now doing an expeditious validation of this claim as part of its regulatory function to check possible oversight on the computation.”
There are three more requirements, he added. The project must be in accordance with the approved plans, safe and commercially operable, and toll road facilities have been installed.
“On the issue of safety, there has been no reported major incident during the 2 and 1/2 months the Skyway Stage 3 was opened for public use,” he said.
On the matter of commercially operable to enable them to operate and collect the toll fees, the hardware, equipment, and toll collection systems are still being installed for testing and commissioning, he added.
The TRB needs to conduct its test on the project’s toll collection system and equipment, “at least on those that have been completed as our proactive manner of facilitating the completion of our tests to ensure that it is properly and efficiently working to avoid glitches and flaws that may inconvenience the motorists,” he explained.
On Monday, Mr. Ang criticized the regulator’s “inaction” on the issuance of a toll operation permit.
He said the company needs to start collecting toll fees for daily maintenance and operations of the new elevated expressway, which are estimated at P10 billion a year.
SMC unit, Skyway O&M Corp., announced on Monday evening that the Skyway 3 would be closed indefinitely until all ramps are completed “in accordance with the TRB directive.”
Mr. Ang said the following day there was a “misunderstanding” between the company and the regulator.
He decided to keep the Skyway Stage 3 open.
In a joint statement, the TRB, which includes representatives from the departments of Transportation, Finance, Public Works and Highways, and National Economic and Development Authority, said it “did not issue a decision or directive ordering the indefinite closure of the Skyway Stage 3.”
The regulator said its position is to keep the new expressway “open for the benefit of all motorists.”
“We wish to assure SMC that the TRB will issue with dispatch in due time their authority to collect the tolls upon compliance with the above-stated requirements, including the publication of the approved toll fees and the posting of the required bond,” Mr. Corpus said.