Commuters from south of Metro Manila were greeted yesterday with a standstill traffic due to the closure of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) Lane 3 Northbound after Alabang viaduct to give way to the Skyway extension project. Thousands were late for school and work, and hours were wasted because of the heavy traffic which, heaven forbids, could last until December 2020.
Commuters pass the expressway and pay toll fees because of the promise of speed and convenience. Otherwise, they would have taken the secondary and arterial roads. But with the not-so properly planned traffic system, the toll fees become an unneccessary burden.
If the essence theory is to be followed, since SLEX cannot anymore provide the speed and convenience it promises, it loses its right to impose toll fees. It cannot reason out that the Skyway construction is inevitable, and that in the future, convenience will resume. If that is the case, then the charging of toll fees should also be suspended and resume only when the convenience being provided by an expressway returns.
Second, while it may be true that the Skyway being constructed will provide future benefits, the discussion is focused on the “now”. Will the Skyway operator not charge fees in the future once the road becomes operational? If it is also going to charge toll fees, why should the commuters pay pre and post construction? Can’t fees be exacted only once the facility becomes operational?
Moving forward, SLEX should provide a clear plan and implement a traffic scheme that the commuters deserve. Note that SLEX traffic will build up further with the coming semestral break and during the All Saint’s Day leading to Christmas Day. If it cannot, then it should consider removing the toll fees altogether. This is because if the purpose of the thing is gone, what use is that thing for, right?