LAHORE - The business community has urged the National Highway Authority (NHA) as well as the Ministry of Information Technology to install a modern and speedy E-Tag system on all major entries of the Motorways, as the existing system is very obsolete, causing a complete traffic mess on highways.

Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry former president Abdul Basit observed that motorists experience unprecedented traffic muddles at toll plazas, especially at Lahore entry, in the evenings, and it takes at least 30 minutes and at times even more to get through this ordeal. “It is indeed very exasperating and annoying for a weary traveler. This wastage of time as well as the fuel quashes the real cause of the Motorway, aimed at saving precious time, and making travelling easy and comfortable,” he said.

He said that new automated system on Motorways’ toll plazas is worse than the manual system. The new E-Tag system was launched to save the time of motorists but the real purpose of time saving has not been served yet, as it is slower than the manual system, he added.

Abdul Basit, who is presently chairman of the Punjab Industrial Estates Development and Management Company (PIEDMC), suggested the National Highway Authority to work on speedy E-Tag system on war footings in collaboration with the Ministry of Information Technology and get the best modern system from wherever it is available at whatever the cost. “It will pay back in a very short time only on one head which is fuel, leading to saving of foreign exchange, which is mostly spent on import of oil,” he added. He recommended that new speedy E-tag system should work on all the tolls countrywide on Motorways and Highway bridges.

Presenting the example of E-Tag system on motorways in Sydney, Australia, he said that system is well managed and efficient, as there is no cash counter on toll plazas where every vehicle travels at speed of about 110km/hour.

“Their E-Tag system records and charges the vehicles that are crossing at speed of 110KM/H. If any vehicle does not have a balance in his E-tag account or does not have a E-Tag fixed on his car, cameras installed on Toll plazas take the photograph of vehicle number plate and demand is made so that driver can deposit toll amount at any bank or RTA office (Road Transport Authority) or some designated fuel stations or through internet banking system,” he informed. If motorist does not pay within a specific time period then he/she receives a ‘challan’ with penalty at his given address registered with Motor Registration Authority, he added. “This is how they save time, fuel and avoid air pollution,” he argued.

Stressing upon the need for saving fuel as well as time, he stated that Australia is constructing a tunnel to connect two motorways at a huge cost of $3 billion just to save 15 minutes of travelling time.