February 10, 2005

The Long Road to Nowhere

On my way home to Bulacan, my mom warned to be sleep on the bus. Why? Due to the insanely long lines at the toll gates at Balintawak. Now why were there long lines at the Balintawak tollgates? The motorists are complaining their lungs off at the insanely high toll fees.

Lets put it this way: When you’re heading to Valenzuela exit coming from Balintawak, you’d pay about P3.00. Today, the Lopez-owned Manila North Tollways Corporation (MNTC) charges you about P40.00 for the four kilometers you use on the NLEX. On the average, the toll fees rose 388%.

Now did they improve the road conditions, by 388%? Well essentially, although the roads drastically improve, it wasn’t a 388% improvement. Let’s put it this way (again): Jollibee charges you about P62 for a Chickenjoy value meal. Now lets say, Jollibee made the chicken 50% bigger, gave you two extra rice, gave you half a liter of Coke, for the price of P303!

As you can see, the toll hike was unreasonable, untimely, and unpractical. Unreasonable since although the roads improved, it wasn’t enough to make them charge us 388% more. Less gasoline wasted? Only if they can prove that we can really save 388% more as compared to the previous condition on the NLEX.

Untimely since, the recent price hike of Meralco (another Lopez-owned company), unstable fuel prices, the impending increase of consumer goods (thanks to the Pres. Arroyo-sponsored VAT bill), and increasing prices of raw materials, this would give further headaches (and stomachaches) to the Filipino people. The Filipinos are already starving due to the high prices of consumer goods, and with this hike in toll fees, several goods from North Luzon (especially vegatables from Baguio) will increase their prices. Several bus companies will hike their fares. And the MNTC guy even had a nerve on saying that there is absolutely no reason for transport companies to increase their fares!

Unpractical since, aside from the North Luzon Expressway, the only alternative route is the McArthur Highway, which is probably the least maintained road in Luzon. Potholes and unmonitored traffic made the highway one of the slowest roads in the planet. And many people are used to using the NLEX, using any other road would be suicide for those who doesn’t know the proper way.

What made it worse is that the MNTC apparently gave the motoring public one night of preparation. They’d announced that they would raise toll fees on February 9, on the news programs. Although many people are expecting the increase anytime soon, they were caught off guard by the sudden hike in toll fees. Drivers and motorists complained to the toll clerks that they were not informed (who really believes, or is branwashed by, the Lopez propaganda machine, TV Patrol?).

The MNTC must understand that the Philippines is really going to the dustbin. Unless something is done, we would be seeing Argentina 2002 all over again. The MNTC be compelled to see that the motoring public can’t afford a 388% increase in toll fees. All hell might break lose if they’d insist on their demand of crazily high toll fees. The riding public can swallow a 100%, or even a 200% increase, for it approximates the improvements done on the NLEX. But a near 400% increase is simple a tough pill to swallow. Where are we driving at? The yellow brick road?

So I’m inviting you Filipinos to sign the Slash NLEX Toll Fees petition. United we stand, divided we fall. Let us be united in the endeavor of resisting unreasonable price adjustments by the capitalists. After all, it is we, the people, which made them filthy rich.

Read the MNTC's side of the story here.


  1. the fee increase is justifiable. as a commuter on the nlex, you receive improved roads, 24/7 service and other perks along the highway.

    remember the nlex before this overhaul? isn't this nlex a better alternative?

  2. There has been a significant improvement in operations since the time I wrote this. However, roads are supposed to be free.

    Since one of the government's tasks is to build roads, the government should be running the tollway. However since the government admitted it can't improve the NLEX because of the government's current financial woes, they delegated their authority to the MNTC.

    However, with improvements come with a price. And a heavy one at that. The MNTC increased the rates by 388%. This resulted is reduced number of vehicles plying in the expressway, which increased to faster travel time. However if they increased the toll fee by only 200%, there would be more vehicles yet, the travel time would still be faster.

    What am I trying to say? The roads are supposed to be for everybody. If the MNTC charges high tolls, which only the well off can afford, then that's another step to an oligarchy. TIME magazine already said that the Philippines is already an oligarchy.

    Plan of action? Where the promised discounts for frequent users and public utility vehicles. The transport fares of PUVs plyiing the expressway increased 26%. The already starved population's money is being sucked by a family. It's good to stabilize your financial future, but by not at the expense of everybody else.

    Alternative? If you can accept McArthur Hiway as an alternative, then you can use that.

  3. thought-provoking, mootable pv. just my thoughts, well anyways gl & be chipper is what i say


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