Kherki Daula toll plaza to go 100% digital from Tuesday, jams expected
Commuters on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway should brace for congestion and traffic jams at the Kherki Daula toll plaza for next few days, as the government has made electronic toll payment through FASTags mandatory from Monday midnight.
The move to implement digital payments will effectively come into force from Tuesday morning, but is expected to cause heavy congestion at the toll plaza as almost 20% of the vehicles, on an average, still make cash payments, said officials of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
Another issue that is likely to cause congestion is that the volume of traffic on the highway has increased significantly over the last week. The number of toll-paying vehicles, which stood at around 65,000 passenger car units (PCUs) on an average till last week has increased to 80,000 PCUs, said an official of the concessionaire, Millennium City Expressway Private Limited (MCEPL). The recent decision to do away with the minimum balance in FASTag accounts has also not been implemented fully yet, the official said.
Shashi Bhushan, project director, NHAI, however, remained upbeat and said that all steps have been taken to ensure smooth movement of traffic at the toll plaza. “New RFID tag readers have been installed recently, more traffic marshals have been deployed and multiple stalls for the sale of FASTags have been set up at the toll plaza to ensure vehicle owners can buy these,” said Bhushan, adding that drive to implement digital payments has been going on for quite some time.
Bhushan, however, said that full implementation of electronic payments could lead to traffic congestion initially because the penetration of FASTags is still at 80%. “Around 20% of vehicles still make cash payment but hopefully, in the next few days, they will also get tags installed,” he said.
NHAI officials also said that vehicles entering the lanes without valid tags would have to pay double the fees.
An MCEPL official, meanwhile, said that given the recent spurt in traffic, there could be heavy jams at the plaza. “We request all commuters to get FASTags installed on Monday itself and keep the minimum balance so that vehicles don’t get stuck in lanes. We are prepared for the situation but it could get difficult,” the official said.
The mandatory digital payment was to be implemented from January 1 but the date was extended to February 15.
The FASTags are operated through Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to collect toll. The stickers are fixed on windshield and these are detected at the toll plaza by the readers.