While at some other time, this might have come across as a relief, at this point it isn’t going to affect any of us road users majorly. You see, in this lockdown period, no public or private vehicle is allowed to ply, let alone cross borders. The 21-day lockdown means everyone stays at home, excluding the law and order, fire, safety as well as medical personnel. The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) will stop collecting toll fees from users during the lockdown period. This was also confirmed by Nitin Gadkari, the minister for road, transport, micro, small and medium enterprises, on Twitter.
The toll collection suspension has been put into effect to minimise physical contact at toll booths. There is also the fact that emergency services need to have a quick passage during these times. We also know how usually toll plazas are clogged. However, after the online toll collection started vis-a-vis, Fastag, the government claims to have halved waiting times. For every national toll plaza, all lanes except one have been marked as Fastag. Users entering the Fastag lane need to have the requisite stickers on their windshields for contactless and fast online toll collection. The hybrid or non-Fastag lanes though have got the usual traffic, says the document. This is because these lanes have to pay cash and hence the wait times have gone up or have stayed consistent with what was there pre-Fastag era.
What about the toll revenue, you may ask? It is highly likely that the government may have to bear the estimated losses to the private operators. While there is no clarity on the same, we believe this might be the case. This essential lockdown does come with financial loss to institutions as well as individuals. How the government copes with this, remains to be ascertained.
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