The Ministry of Road Transport & Highway made FASTags mandatory from February 15 at midnight. The statement issued by the government read, “it has decided that all lanes in the fee plazas on National Highways shall be declared as ‘FASTag lane of the fee plaza’ from midnight of 15th/16th February 2021 and any vehicle not fitted with it will be charged double the toll at electronic toll plazas across the country.”
The technology of FASTag has been adapted by the government to make highway travel more efficient, reduce waiting time & fuel consumption, and promote digital payments. However, on the contrary, the ministry’s decision to force its implementation has caused more hindrance to the commuters.
On the very first day of its implementation, traffic snarls were reported at the plazas across the nation, primarily due to a lack of awareness about the issued notification and the confusion faced by the commuters in making a sudden transition from cash to FASTag. Adding to the chaos were the technical glitches faced at the plazas.
As per reports, many scanners were unable to read the stickers from the windshields due to which each vehicle has to wait for 20-30 secs. Also, due to the increased demand, a longer time was consumed to create new FASTags and recharge the existing ones.
Furthermore, many claimed that the recharged amount did not get reflected in accounts immediately and the text message that is sent after the deduction of the amount at the toll plaza was delivered to the registered mobile numbers after almost two hours.
As per the records given by the NHAI, only 50% of truckers have installed FASTag, making it practically difficult for the remaining 50% to install the technology overnight.
While, it may be easier for the large transporters, or the truckers who resides in tier 2 and 3 cities and have the resources to avail the technology, the instalment of the same for the small truckers will be a challenge as they are lacking such facilities and don’t have FASTag hubs or facilities to guide them around them.
Another challenge that comes to the surface amid the mandatory implementation of FASTag is the lack of efficiency from the government in recharging or regenerating the FASTag.
The small truckers who themselves own and drive their fleet face many complexities in recharging. Furthermore, many times due to some glitch in the tech, a faulty sticker is issued. And, to replace the same, it takes about 15 days (that too in 2 tier cities). While in secluded areas, it takes even a month to reach the transporter, a transporter informed us.