Ang says 'no closure' of Skyway Stage 3 as mix-up being addressed

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Ang says 'no closure' of Skyway Stage 3 as mix-up being addressed
There were initially conflicting statements from the conglomerate and regulators at the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) on whether or not the toll road will be shut down for now. San Miguel said there was a government closure order, but TRB that oversees tollways denied this.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 4:06 p.m., March 16) — Motorists in Metro Manila can heave a sigh of relief as the Skyway Stage 3 will not close down and remain open after work hours on Tuesday. 

In a text message, San Miguel Corp. president Ramon Ang said there will be "no closure" of the 18.83-kilometer toll road that connects motorists from North to South Luzon Expressway and vice-versa.

It was the clearest statement on the supposed closure of the tollway which in less than 24 hours, triggered dismay and confusion for motorists relying on Skyway Stage 3 for faster access to Metro Manila.

The confusion started after the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), which oversees toll operations, denied ordering a closure of Skyway Stage 3 beginning 5 p.m. Tuesday— as announced by San Miguel on its social media accounts overnight.

“The position of the TRB and its management is to keep Skyway Stage 3 OPEN for the benefit of all motorists,” TRB said in a statement early Tuesday.

At the time, TRB spokesman Julius Corpus told a television interview there appeared a “miscommunication” between San Miguel and TRB. After finally telling media there will be no closure, Ang then proceeded to call Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade, who leads the TRB, to clear the mix-up.

It turned out, according to Ang, that TRB initially wanted the Skyway management to complete building all Stage 3 ramps before operating as a tollway. Skyway Stage 3 opened to motorists last January 14, but construction continued in select segments, including ramps which are now said to be 97% complete.

Nonetheless, Ang said nothing in their agreement with the government prevents the new tollway from running while building is ongoing. In fact, the toll operator can even go ahead and collect fees, only if TRB would already approve their proposed rates. 

Ang lamented TRB “keeps delaying” the release of Stage 3 rates, preventing the charging of toll and recovery of San Miguel’s ballooning expenses for the construction and upkeep of the elevated road. “Secretary Tugade understands our predicament. Skyway 3 was built at no cost to government,” he said.

“We have also made a lot of concessions— including lowering toll fees— in the interest of the public...We spend a lot for its upkeep, and at the same time, lose a lot in forgone revenues,” Ang said.

“We cannot operate this and serve people if the project is not generating revenues,” he added.

TRB, however, said 100% project completion is required before toll collection can begin. The Stage 3 of Skyway is an elevated stretch from Makati City to Balintawak in Quezon City.


Editor's note: Included San Miguel's Ang statement on mix-up.

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