SMC tollways assure smooth flow of essential personnel, goods

MANILA – After waiving the toll fees for all medical practitioners last week, San Miguel Corp. (SMC) has reported that some 2,000 doctors and nurses have availed of the toll-free RFID stickers.

The stickers are valid at the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) tollway, South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), the Skyway system, NAIA Expressway, and the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX).

“We started this initiative not only to show support for our medical front-liners and government but also to inspire more businesses to step up their responses all the more and play their part in fighting the battle against Covid-19,” SMC president Ramon S. Ang said in a news release.

“We know this is a small thing, considering the significance of what our doctors and nurses are faced with every day, but this is one way we can serve them as they serve our country,” he added.

Ang also assured the public that all SMC Infrastructure and tollways will continue to be operational and that they will extend their full support to the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines in enforcing the Luzon-wide quarantine, while ensuring the unimpeded flow of essential goods and personnel.

“Our tollway employees continue to do their jobs and are committed to serving motorists on essential travel,” he said.

In the first two weeks of the quarantine, SMC’s tollways unit reported an 80 percent drop in vehicle volume from an average of 300,000 daily, at the SLEX, which connects Metro Manila to Laguna, Cavite, Batangas, and Quezon to as far as the Bicol region.

“Our toll roads are very important links to keeping the supply chain of essential goods dynamic and despite the slowdown in traffic, we are committed to keeping them fully operational,” Ang said.

Recently, he said the loss of business and profits at this time when the country is dealing with a global pandemic, is not nearly as important as saving lives.

“Saving lives is always more important than money. We need to have a healthy population, reduce the number of individuals who can potentially get sick and die. We can always rebuild and make money in the process. Once a life is lost, it’s gone forever,” Ang said.

Only vehicles containing essential goods and services are allowed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to travel on most roads, including the SLEX, Skyway, STAR, NAIA Expressway, and TPLEX.

Apart from providing the free use of the expressway for medical front-liners, the SLEX has also designated priority lanes for medical practitioners and vehicles carrying essential goods, such as medical supplies, medical equipment, food, and raw materials for food. (SMC PR)