Kochi: Waiting in queues at toll plazas on national highways for cash payments will become a thing of the past with the introduction of Fastags from December 1. This is the system of electronic payments made possible through the Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.
The Fastag is affixed on the vehicle’s windscreen and linked to a prepaid account from which the applicable toll amount is deducted automatically as the vehicle zooms through the plazas without any questions being asked. The NHAI will offer a 2.5 per cent cashback to Fastag users till March 31, 2020.
Though Fastag has been made mandatory by the National Highway Authority of India to reduce traffic congestion before collection centres, it will be fully implemented in the state only in stages.
“Unlike in other states, the people here are slow in switching over to the RFID-enabled facility, may be due to less number of toll plazas in the state. Hence, we’ve given unofficial permission to the toll-plaza operators to keep one cash lane open in each direction while all others will be Fastag ones,” said a regional NHAI official.
There are only four toll plazas – Kumbalam, Ponnarimangalam, Paliyekkara and Walayar-- in the state as compared to over 30 in Tamil Nadu.
“We’ll have a single cash lane tag (extreme ends on both sides) in each direction while the remaining six will be ‘Fastag Express lanes.’ Vehicle owners can buy Fastags of Paytm, South Indian Bank, Airtel, SBI and ICICI from our toll plaza while the cost will be decided by the service provider. Also we’ve set up banners and flex boards informing vehicle owners of the mandatory change. Leaflets will be distributed from fuel outlets also,” said Jithesh Chaudhary, system administrator, Kochi-Aroor Tollways Ltd, which is running the toll-plaza at Kumbalam.
Meanwhile, the Motor Vehicles Department will make Fastags mandatory for fitness renewal of vehicles soon. Earlier, they were made compulsory for all vehicles rolled out after December 1, 2017 for registration.
“Fastags will be compulsory for heavy vehicles before December 2017 when they are brought for fitness tests. The private vehicles launched after December 2017 already have the facility and the owners need to just make the accounts live,” said a senior MVD official....