I took the Ministry of Works to task this morning regarding the fiasco of the SmartTAG system at toll plazas which is regularly causing serious traffic congestion.
The traffic congestion problem at toll plazas due to the inefficiency of SmartTAG toll collection system has been repeatedly raised in the public media, but there is no progressive improvement on the system yet.
The answer given by the Deputy Works Minister, Yong Khoon Seng, was not constructive and practical at all. Parliament was told Syarikat Touch N Go Sdn. Bhd (TNGSB) has exclusive rights to manage and handle the SmartTAG system.
In my supplementary question to the Ministry I queried about the efficiency and performance of TGNSB and whether inefficiency of the SmartTAG System is due to monopolisation of the electronic toll collection system. Unlike Malaysia, electronic toll collection systems in Singapore and London are quite advanced and efficient. I was told that their electronic toll collection systems are handled and managed by various companies.
My concern is the SmartTAG system supposed bring us more convenience, time-saving and smoother transition from one end to another. However, I find that the SmartTAG system has brought forth more problems than benefits, such as:-
(i) It is unable to, or is slow to, detect/capture signal from the SmartTAG device;
(ii) Cars have to slow down, or in some case, have to stop at the toll plazas in order for the infra-red transceivers mounted at the ceilings of toll plazas to receive the signals from SmartTAG devices;
(iii) Regular infra-red transceivers breakdown; and
(iv) Company slow in sending officers to repair breakdown of infra-red transceivers.
In reply, Yong said it is because the SmartTAG device’s battery is “flat”.
I further asked why were the SmartTAG device so expensive, i.e around RM130 per unit.
The Ministry should subsidise or order TNGSB to reduce the price of the SmartTAG to encourage road users to use it.
It is also important to have open competition in this field and invite more players to invest in this technology and introduce better and more efficient electronic toll collection system.
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