Lack of electronic toll system

Tailbacks on entry points of bridges on rise

Directive to set up ETS in all toll plazas by Dec 31

| Updated: November 22, 2022 17:24:15

- A file photo of Meghna toll plaza - A file photo of Meghna toll plaza

Tailbacks of vehicles on the toll bridges at the city's entry points continue to increase in absence of efforts to introduce an electronic system for speeding up the process of automatic toll collection.

The Road Transport and Highways Division (RTHD) introduced the electronic tolling system (ETS) through setting up separate lanes for toll booths of 12 bridges in the country.

Sources said absence of the ETS has been felt after the Padma Bridge inauguration, as thousands of vehicles remain stuck on the Mayor Hanif Flyover for hours for manual toll collection system.

The Meghna and Meghna-Gumti bridges on the Dhaka-Chattogram Highway also face traffic pressure due to absence of the ETS, although the bridges have separate lanes for faster toll collection.

The sources also said a committee has been formed under the RTHD after a recent meeting - held under the Prime Minister's Office. But, there is no visible effort to speed up the process of effective toll collection.

The meeting directed to introduce the ETS in all toll plazas by December 31. However, the Mayor Hanif Flyover authority has been reluctant to introduce the system despite requests from the authorities concerned, they added.

Recently, the committee held a meeting to discuss issues to introduce an integrated management system for toll collection.

It found that the vehicles were registered for the service with a tag of radio frequency identification (RFID), which was not working. RFID tags of the vehicles, mainly buses, got damaged due to breaking of windshields.

The meeting was informed that despite offering concession in toll rates for the ETS-lane users, the number of such vehicles did not increase that much.

The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) collects tolls from the vehicle owners' bank accounts after detecting their number plates through an antenna - set up at the toll gate of a bridge.

The BRTA sets up RFID tag at the vehicles' windshields and the toll gate to identify the vehicles after their registration for the ITS service, which officials claimed can be done by online.

The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) owns the toll bridges below 1.5 kilometres, while the Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) owns the bridges over 1.5 km.

The BBA has given the responsibility of toll collection of the newly-built Padma Multipurpose Bridge to a Korean Company. It is supposed to set up the intelligent transport system for overall management of the toll plaza, including tracking vehicles in case of accidents or becoming inoperative in any point of the highway.

The BBA also has four other bridges under toll system.

The RHD's initiative has also been taken to stop pilferage by making the toll collection system cashless.

An official said on an average 50,000 vehicles use the Meghna and Meghna-Gumti bridges, but hardly 3,000 vehicles use the ETC lane.

The declining trend was also seen in cases of other toll bridges too, barring the Shah Amanat toll plaza that received 29,982 ETC-using vehicles in 2020, and 38,756 vehicles in 2021.

According to data, the Meghna-Gumti Bridge had an average of 5,010 ETC-using vehicles in 2019, 4,323 vehicles in 2020, and 3,133 vehicles in 2021.

The Payra Bridge ETC received only seven vehicles since its inauguration in September last year, while the Khan Jahan Ali Bridge ETC so far received 245 users, and the Atrai Bridge ETC 74 users.

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