FASTag ride not glitch-free

FASTag ride not glitch-free

Much needs to be done to ease the digital collection of toll on our national highways. A Metrolife reality check finds failed scans and clueless officials

The government has declared all lanes on national highways FASTag lanes from December 1. That means if your vehicle does not have a digital tag, you pay double the toll at the cash counter.

The point of FASTag was to eliminate cash transactions by making automated electronic deductions the norm.

The new scheme is operated by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). 

Since its launch, many users have complained about spending more time at toll gates, and some have even said they were scammed. 

Metrolife did a reality check this weekend. A reporter travelled from Bengaluru to Davangere in central Karnataka, a distance of 264 km, and back, crossing six toll gates each way.

The FASTag account was activated on January 17. This took three days and a visit to the NHAI office at Devanahalli. Reason for the delay: “server down”. We eventually charged the account with Rs 600. 

No one at plaza

On Saturday morning, the car crossed the Nelamangala and Kyathasandra toll gates with ease. In fact, there was no one at the Kyathasandra gate to check on toll collection. We got no message about the toll being deducted at these two gates. 

When we reached the Karjeevanahalli toll gate, an official informed us our FASTag account was blacklisted and we would have to pay cash. 

According to NHAI, if a vehicle user with a valid, functional FASTag with sufficient balance crosses a fee plaza without the fee being deducted, the user is permitted to pass payment.

An appropriate zero transaction receipt has to be issued mandatorily for all such transactions. No one at the toll fate was aware of this rule. They insisted we pay the full amount if we wanted to move on. 

We called the toll-free number 1033. Two hours and six customer care executives later, the only information we received was “Your FASTag has been blacklisted and we don’t know why. We will register a complaint and get back at the earliest. Meanwhile, you will have to pay the toll for your travel.”

One of the senior executives told Metrolife that some FASTag scanning machines were faulty and that’s the reason this had happened.

With no option left, we paid Rs 1,000 by cash, and that was double the toll. 

Since our return to Bengaluru on Sunday, we made a visit to the FASTag office near Kempegowda International Airport for two days, and the executives haven’t still been able to provide a solution. 

Officials kept sending us from one line to another with no clue about how to deal with the problem. 

Metrolife also sent an email to the NHAI helpdesk but hasn’t received any response yet. The regional officer was unavailable to answer questions. 

Common concern s among highway users

The number of complaints since January 15, when FASTag became compulsory, has been on the rise. Many are using the hashtag #FASTag to post their problems on Twitter but have received no response.

On December 20, Congress spokesperson Brijesh Kalappa tweeted: “#FASTag is a scam! A two way to Bengaluru airport used to cost Rs. 130/-. Now with fastag, Rs. 90/- is cut each time. An increase of Rs. 50/-! On Electronics City flyover, a to and fro cost 70/-. Now on FASTag, Rs 50/- is automatically cut from your a/c each time!!”

Similarly, a Twitterati @mohit_shukla04 tagged Highways Minister Nitin Gadkar and wrote: “#Fastag Sir this is toll on NH24B, it took 30 mins standing in a queue. All the lanes are fastag, scanners sensors are outdated not working properly. It was better when it was cash. Great initiative.”

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