Despite Saturday being a lean traffic day on Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway, the Kherki Daula toll plaza witnessed long queues with a majority of users presenting the old ₹500 notes and new ₹2000 notes in hope of getting small change. This increased the transaction time and led to frequent jams forcing police to lift the boom barriers at least 20 times in the day for vehicles to pass without paying the toll.
With traffic expected to multiply on Monday, more trouble can be expected as the highway authority’s push for online payments also failed to gain much traction. Less than 1% users paid the toll using debit/credit cards, e-wallets or other online payment modules facilitated by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
The frequent lifting of the boom barrier also caused about a 40% dip in the daily collection, said the concessionaire, MCEPL. An average of ₹45 lakh was being collected daily at the Kherki Daula toll plaza prior to the suspension of toll fee.
“The transaction time increased because a majority of the people wanted to pay in ₹2000 notes or the banned ₹500 notes, which is not acceptable at Kherki Daula toll plaza because the fees is less than ₹200 here,” said Sanjay Ray, general manager, MCEPL.
The problem was compounded as only ₹12,000 was paid as toll using smart cards. “The use of digital payment was low but we are expecting it to increase from Monday,” said Navneet Pratap Singh, CEO, Skylark, the operator.
The concessionaire has appealed to users to present smaller denomination notes to prevent jams.
Highway officials also said that though the revenue collection is likely to take a major hit, they will ensure no jam or chaos happens on the highway. “The boom barriers will be lifted if there is a jam-like situation”, said an official.
The district administration has also appointed a duty magistrate and deployed 75 policemen who are keeping a watch on the situation. MCEPL officials also said that second shift of the day, which operates from 12pm to 4 pm, was extended to augment the manpower.