San Miguel Corp. has cited the need to start charging fees for the use of the 18-kilometer Skyway 3, which opened to motorists last December 29.
This after the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) refused to take action on SMC’s request to collect toll on the elevated expressway it built at no cost to the government.
SMC president and COO Ramon S. Ang said the TRB insisted that Skyway 3 could not start full operations and collect toll until all ramps are 100% complete.
“Our supplemental toll operation agreement with the government states that we can start collecting at 95% completion. We are now 97% complete. We need sufficient funds for the toll road’s daily maintenance, proper long-term upkeep and to keep it safe and efficient for the motoring public,” Ang said.
“As Skyway 3’s losses have been mounting because TRB keeps delaying the start of toll collection, the quickest way for our infrastructure unit to speed up 100% completion of the ramps would have been to close Skyway 3,” he pointed out.
Ang, however, has committed to keep Skyway 3 open despite SMC’s rift with the TRB.
“In good faith, during our earlier discussions with TRB, we lowered the proposed toll rates significantly. Basically, we took out and deferred collection of most of the cost of right-of-way acquisition. After that, we lowered the rates even further, so that people travelling short distances would pay much less,” Ang said.
Ang noted that SMC is only expected to generate P4 billion in annual revenues at a cost of P10 billion per year to operate the tollroad. This is based on the company’s proposed toll rate and the average daily traffic of 60,000 vehicles.
“SMC fully-funded the over P80 billion cost to build it. After years of hard work, we opened it last December 29 so we can start serving the public for free, for a reasonable amount of time,” Ang said.
“We have also made a lot of concessions–including lowering toll fees–in the interest of the public. Also, Skyway 3 is new, but heavy everyday use causes it to deteriorate if not maintained properly. We spend a lot for its upkeep, and at the same time lose a lot in foregone revenues. We cannot operate this and serve people if the project is not generating revenues,” he added.
Ang said the cost of Skyway 3 increased significantly because of problems in the acquisition of right-of-way leading to major redesigns, realignments, reconstructing which raised costs and extended the construction to two administrations.
“Basically, we have done everything to make sure we can viably operate Skyway 3 right away, so we can serve motorists and fulfill our goal, which is to lessen traffic in Metro Manila and hopefully, through better connectivity, create more jobs and economic opportunities for more Filipinos. This is really a team effort, and we need to work together for our country to succeed,” Ang said.
Skyway 3 connects the North Luzon Expressway and South Luzon Expressway, cutting travel time between Balintawak, Quezon City and Magallanes, Makati to 15 minutes from over two hours.