E-way safety first, toll hike plan shot down

GREATER NOIDA: Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) has shot down a proposal to hike toll fee by 12% on Yamuna expressway. It has asked the concessionaire — Jaypee Infratech — to first put into place commitments of safety and security along the high-speed corridor.

Officials said the UP government has authorised YEIDA to sanction the annual increment in toll rates on the expressway from April 1 every year. “Any toll revision along the 185-km expressway has to be notified by the UP government and endorsed by the YEIDA,” said Authority CEO Arun Vir Singh.

However, taking note of the spiralling accident graph, totalling about 2,900 with fatalities numbering over 400 since the expressway was opened, YEIDA officials have this year taken a tough stance.

“We will endorse a hike in the toll fee only when the developer completes provision of all contracted essential facilities on the expressway,” said Singh. “Several services for public convenience, including adequate safety and security measures, need to be reassessed in the wake of the recurring accidents,” he added.

The expressway has three toll plazas located at Jewar (38 km from zero point), Mathura (94 km) and Agra (150 km). As per a toll revision by the concessionaire in April 2015, those travelling in cars are currently being charged Rs 360, while two-wheelers pay Rs 175 for a trip to Agra from Greater Noida. For buses and trucks, the fee stands at Rs 1,150.

“Before giving nod to any toll hike, we would like to know if suggestions of a safety audit carried out by the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) last year have been implemented by the concessionaire,” Singh said.

“Our aim is to mitigate the rising road crashes on the expressway as well as to make appropriate improvement. Safety suggestions by CRRI had included putting down of rumble strips, speed arrestors, a median crash barrier, required tyre pressure, among other steps to rein in speeding vehicles,” he added.Singh said he has called a meeting on March 16, which will include officials from Jaypee Infratech as well traffic police heads of the three districts that abut the expressway to rein in the increasing accident rate. “The aim is to immediately strengthen and overcome shortcomings for safety and security measures for commuters using the hgih-speed corridor,” the CEO said.When contacted, a concessionaire official said they will write to the Authority after March 16 regarding the hike, which is an annual feature. “All requirements directed by YEIDA have already been put into place by us,” he said. “We have also complied with all directions of CRRI’s safety audit report. We have provided vehicles for 24×7 police patrolling along the expressway even as the administration has deployed security personnel to rein in speedsters,” he added.