Traffic snarls and chaos at the two toll plazas of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in Ernakulam eased on Thursday, two days since the authority made FasTag mandatory and began collecting double the regular toll from motorists who did not have it on the windscreen of their vehicles.
As on Thursday evening, vehicles bearing FasTag which crossed the Kumbalam toll plaza on the Edappally-Aroor NH Bypass rose to 63%, while it was 75% at the Ponnarimangalam plaza on Container Road. The higher adherence on Container Road could be because container-laden and other lorries dominate the stretch, unlike on the NH Bypass which sees more number of four-wheelers and bigger passenger vehicles. All others have to pay double the toll and that too for a single journey. They will have to wait in the queue and pay double the rate for return journey as well, official sources said.
Faced with this, several motorists have begun purchasing FasTag from 24×7 counters that have been opened near the plazas. The activation takes 10 to 15 minutes. The owner’s cell number must be given and not the driver’s. One can also utilise apps or obtain it from banks. Vehicle dealerships too provide it for new vehicles, they added.
Apart from being a convenient mode of toll payment, it also helps vehicle owners trace vehicles in case they are stolen or if they suspect that they are being misused. Above all, FasTag will be mandatory from April 1 to pay vehicle insurance.
With FasTag being made mandatory from Tuesday, after two postponements, social media was agog with a copy of an order which permits cashless commute through toll plazas in case the machine at the counter fails to read the FasTag. But vehicles which have been blacklisted for reasons like misusing the tag, using a worn-out tag, or whose bank account does not have minimum balance cannot cite this and avoid toll, sources said.
In the meantime, people residing in the vicinity of toll booths have been demanding restoration of concessional travel, since they otherwise have to pay hefty toll for using just a few hundred metres of NH corridors.
The district administration will convene a meeting in a week to sort out problems raised by local residents near Container Road, it is learnt.