RFID: Best to implement in stages, say Fomca deputy chief

KUALA LUMPUR: Plans to implement Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for toll payments on the main stretch of the North-South Expressway from Juru in Penang and Skudai in Johor from Jan 15 have drawn mixed views from various quarters.

For Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca) deputy president Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman, the implementation is in line with the government's intention to modernise toll payments and reduce congestion at toll plazas.

"We can look at Singapore, which does not have tolls, travelling is faster there because there is no need for motorists to stop and scan or touch the card like what we are doing now," he said.

According to highway concessionaire PLUS Malaysia Bhd, toll payments via RFID were first introduced in 2018 at selected expressways as an initial step to the implementation of toll transactions without the presence of toll plazas through the multi-lane free flow system or MLFF.

However, Yusof said the current 20 RFID routes at nine PLUS toll plazas still had gantries and this forced highway users to slow down.

He said the value-added facility offered by RFID, which could be made online, should have been well-received by the public.

"RFID provides an easier option because top-ups can be made using smartphones either via a debit or credit card, or online banking. It also has a direct top-up feature using an e-Wallet,” he added.

He welcomed the move to implement the RFID in stages as not all highway users currently had access to RFID tags due to the lack of information on the system.

"The option given to motorists to use Touch‘ n Go and Smart Tag for a certain period of time is appropriate until everyone has access to RFID. Then, PLUS can gradually eliminate the existing payment methods and switch to RFID completely," he said, suggesting more promotions to be made by PLUS on RFID for the benefit of consumers.

On the negative reaction from some internet users over the government’s move, Yusof said a similar situation occurred during the transition from cash payments to Touch‘n Go at toll plazas.

"It did not take long for the public to accept the change (from cash payments to Touch‘n Go). It shows our people are prepared to accept changes.

"As more and more people use the facility, the response will be more positive. Many people do not agree now because not many people use it,” he added.

However, Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) activist leader Datuk Nadzim Johan questioned whether there was an urgent need for RFID to be implemented with the majority of the people currently going through a difficult phase of life due to Covid-19.

He said although PLUS had clarified that Touch‘n Go and Smart Tag could still be used, it was still "bad news" for some people.

"Even though it is just an announcement and the existing payment methods are still running, it is making some people to become more stressed,” he told Bernama.

He also pointed out that those in rural areas may have problems installing RFID on their vehicles, as well as technical issues, such as the transfer of current balances in Touch‘n Go and Smart Tags to RFID.

"There must be a guarantee that there will be no additional costs on the users,” he said, hoping that PLUS would provide more information on the implementation of RFID.

According to the RFID website, there are currently 1,269,957 users nationwide.

Deputy Works Minister Datuk Arthur Joseph Kurup told the Dewan Negara recently that the ministry was targeting 60% usage of RFID technology for toll payments by the end of 2022 and that the use of Touch'n Go and Smart Tag may be stopped by the end of 2023. - Bernama

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RFID , PLUS , FOMCA , PPIM , Toll , Touch N Go , Smart Tag


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