Tolling In India – From Road Usage Charging To Misusage Recording And Penalization
November 27, 2010
Over the decade investments for broadening and refurbishments of roads / highways in India, have made Government, Infrastructure companies, banks and financial institution mature enough to manage and execute contracts on Annuity or BOT basis vide the PPP model. Policies for the road usage charging as a recovery to the investment and ongoing maintenance of the infrastructure asset – Roads / Highways / Expressways were brought in with a clear audit mechanism to ensure quality roads and safety to the users. This is how the need for technology oriented Tolling system arise. But the challenge was to model the Tolling system specs to meet the Indian conditions and also to ensure no leakage to the revenues collection. Which means, vehicle count, exemptions and vehicle classification need to be accurate. Secondly any incidents and violations need to be recorded. Over the last few years the technology driven tolling industry has matured and has gained understanding to Indian requirements. Resulting in bringing right competition with the growing international / reputed tolling companies to participate. Now the concern is no more selecting tolling system but a right company providing not only tolling systems but also service them cost effectively over the long drawn concession period. Having understood that today the concessionaires are looking at matured established tolling system provider companies. This has forced International companies to think on having local establishment independently or through Joint Ventures to address the Indian market. And I am of the opinion that these entities shall reap the present mature market for implementing Tolling systems over Highway / Expressway and subsequently maintaining them over decades.
Going further, today the developers/ concessionaires /infrastructure companies have different challenge. Most of the reputed companies have multiple HIGH VALUE investment BOT projects, which are at different locations and stretches. Any unwanted incident can result into huge revenue loss even with best tolling and ITS systems. Monitoring multiple projects become difficult unless and until one haves Central Data Center (CDC) hooking all the projects to monitor and analyse individual operation report to justify actions like mobilize manpower, financial investment , subcontract etc. In true sense the CDC acts as DSS (Decision Support System). This is the time the concessionaire / Developers/ O&M companies need to look into reputed IT companies and make worthy investment for the CDC. But the point is which IT companies? One who are well established with quality standards to ensure stability, scalability of the IT system and must understand Tolling, ITS and Road infrastructure segment to interact and scope the CDC requirements. To name few NIIT Technologies Ltd, HCL, Wipro, TCS, CMC are the ones to look into.
New Business Emergence in Tolling – The State Border Check post in India
Across the state border entry points, various checks are performed on commercial vehicles carrying goods for Overloading, Permits, Vehicle fitness, PUC etc. and have to collect taxes like Entry Tax, Motor Vehicle Tax, Penalties etc. Presently these activities are manual and human dependent raising possibilities of manipulation and errors in classifying vehicle(s) and payment collection. Secondly physical check leads to substantial time spend. This results in huge queue in border check post. To facilitate, ease and to speed up the process, toll systems are brought in to classify vehicles, check overloading, capture and record vehicle registration no. plate and account tax collection / penalties. As “Border Check Post Automation” is an emerging business, will take a while for the tolling and auditing system to evolve and standardize. IT Systems has to play a very vital role and all the border check post integration has to happen centrally from a single location to monitor, analyse and to make decisions. The good part to this emergence is thinking happening in Government and hopefully will result into collection of accountable revenues across all the state border entries and investment for the progress of the country.
Practice Head – Surface Transportation & Airport
NIIT Technologies Ltd.