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HomeEquipmentEquipment NewsHighway tolls shouldn't be charged for pothole-filled or muddy roads

Highway tolls shouldn’t be charged for pothole-filled or muddy roads

Union road transport minister Nitin Gadkari stated on Tuesday that highway agencies should not charge tolls if roads are not in good condition, emphasizing that poor road quality and prolonged wait times at toll plazas are unacceptable. Speaking at a global workshop on satellite-based tolling, set to be implemented over 5,000 km this financial year, Gadkari underscored the necessity for highway agencies to provide efficient services before collecting toll fees.

“If you don’t provide good services, you should not charge toll,” Gadkari asserted. “We are in a hurry to start tolling to collect user fees and protect our interest. When the condition of any road is not good I get numerous complaints and there are social media posts all over…You should collect the user fee where you provide the best quality road. If you collect toll on roads with potholes, mud, then there will be a backlash from people.

Gadkari emphasized that field officers of National Highway (NH) agencies must be sensitive to the public’s pain caused by delays at toll plazas, advocating for a mechanism to quickly address grievances. The minister’s remarks reflect a growing frustration among commuters regarding the state of highways and toll collection practices.

“FASTag,” the mandatory system for paying tolls introduced in 2021, has facilitated 98% of transactions through smart tags fixed on vehicles. However, reports of long queues at toll plazas persist across the country, prompting the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to pursue the roll-out and expansion of a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)-based toll collection system. This new approach aims to eliminate toll gates from the NH network in the next few years.

Initially, the NHAI plans to roll out GNSS-based tolling in phases, beginning with commercial vehicles and dedicating one lane on each side of toll plazas for these vehicles to pass through without stopping. Commercial vehicles will be required to install a vehicle tracker system (VTS) with an onboard unit, an essential component for GNSS-based tolling.

At a later phase, the government plans to extend the GNSS-based tolling system to private vehicles. The road transport ministry has finalized a series of amendments to the Central Motor Vehicle Rules and NH Fee Rules to facilitate the system’s implementation. These regulatory changes do not require new legislation.

Under the new system, vehicle owners will be incentivized with toll charge discounts if their vehicles are equipped with onboard units (OBUs) to pay toll without stopping. Conversely, disincentives will be applied to those who do not opt for this system.

Gadkari highlighted the expected financial benefits of the GNSS-based toll collection system, stating, “The system (GNSS)-based toll collection will add INR 10,000 crore to govt’s toll revenue. We need to put in place a transparent, qualitative and a leak-proof system of GNSS-based toll collection in India to ensure no inconvenience to toll users.”

The GNSS-based toll collection is anticipated to enhance efficiency, reduce logistics costs, and provide significant relief for highway users, who will pay only for the distance traveled. Gadkari’s vision for a more efficient and user-friendly tolling system aims to address long-standing issues associated with highway travel in India.

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