Toll personnel diverting vehicles to the FasTag lane in Bengaluru on Sunday.

Toll personnel diverting vehicles to the FasTag lane in Bengaluru on Sunday.   | Photo Credit:Sudhakara Jain

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Government issues last-minute order extending deadline and allowing room for cash transactions

Confusion reigned supreme at toll plazas after the government issued an order extending thedeadline for FASTagsto become mandatory by 30 days and requiring 25% of lanes at toll plazas to be kept open for cash transactions.

NHAI officials say they saw a 5% jump in FASTag transactions on Sunday, from when FASTags were to become compulsory until the government provided relief to commuters in a last-minute order issued on Saturday due to a shortage of RFID stickers in the market.

In Chennai, there was traffic congestion at toll plazas as cash lanes saw long queues.

Traffic in FASTag lanes was not seamless either, as many road users had insufficient balance in their RFID stickers. Many motorists said they had bought cards online but these were yet to be delivered to them. According to NHAI officials, only 37% of vehicles using toll plazas had FASTags.

This is despite NHAI deploying marshals to manage traffic and each toll plaza being supervised by its nodal officer as well as being monitored at regional & head-quarter level Control and Command centres.

​At a toll plaza at Walayar in Palakkad, truckers instead of car owners were seen to be using FASTags more.

“I rarely use the highway. I don’t think I need to get it. If at all I use, I’m willing to pay the double amount,” said Mohammed Ashar, a local trader here.

But people in general were happy about the convenience offered by FASTag. “I find it simple and convenient. It saves your time in queue. It saves you from searching around in the pocket for small cash when being stopped at the plaza. And above all, it is a definite step towards digitisation,” said Arun Kumar, a trainer in human resources who shuttles between Coimbatore and Kochi frequently.

At Bengaluru’s Sadahalli toll plaza, the employees were seen announcing through microphones and directing vehicles with FASTag to use the reserved lanes and diverting other vehicles to the cash ones.

At the toll plaza towards Kempeogwda International Airport (KIA), five booths have been converted to FASTag lanes and cash was accepted in three lanes. There was a long pile-up of traffic, especially cabs operated to KIA.

The lack of supply of FASTags near the toll plaza also caused a lot of inconvenience to the passengers. People were asked to visit again on Monday.

Seventeen toll plazas across Telangana switched to the FASTag mode in the early hours of Sunday. While it was a smooth and hassle-free passage for FASTag vehicles, non-tag vehicles had to enter the single lane for cash collection, leading to considerable delay in travel.

As the number of non-FASTag vehicle entering the toll plazas increased, NHAI authorities opened additional hybrid lanes to ensure free flow of traffic.