A post is being shared widely on social media with a claim that the toll receipts come with benefits like help during emergencies, help with tyre punctures and running out of fuel. The post asks people to keep the toll receipts with them during their travel to demand these services from the Toll Plaza. Let’s try to analyze the claim made in the post.
Claim: During any medical emergency, flat tyre or in the need of fuel, you can call the phone number given on the other side of the receipt for assistance. So, do not throw the toll receipt.
Fact: Irrespective of whether people pay the toll or not, emergency services like ambulance, towing and the crane services can be availed by national highway users by calling on the numbers given on the toll receipt or by calling the countrywide helpline- ‘1033’. Also, it was not found anywhere that fuel will be supplied by the toll plazas if toll users run out of fuel. The emergency services are provided to all the users of National Highways, so the claim made in the post is MISLEADING.
Toll Plaza Operation:
Once the highway is built, Toll Plazas are setup and rates are fixed by the government. The operation of the toll plaza is entrusted to a private party. These private parties man the toll plazas across the country and collect the toll amount as decided by the government from time to time. The NHAI-TIS (National Highway Authority of India – Toll Information System) website has all the information about any toll plaza in the country. The color code on the map shows the type of toll plaza. More information on NHTIS website can be read here. Details about different types of toll plazas is given below.
BOT (Build Operate and Transfer): ‘In BOT (Toll) pattern, the private developers/ operators meets the upfront cost and expenditure on annual maintenance and recovers the entire cost along with the interest from toll collections as per toll policy during the concession period. To increase the viability of projects, a capital grant up to a maximum of 40% is provided by NHAI.’
OMT (Operations Maintenance and Transfer): ‘In this mode, the agency selected through competitive bidding is responsible for operation, maintenance and collection of Toll/ User Fee for the stretch, with a right to retain the toll collected against payment of a fixed sum to NHAI over a fixed concession period.’
Toll Receipt and Services by Toll Plaza Authorities:
The NHAI has prescribed a standardized format for issuing the toll receipts. The receipt must be of the size 8cm X 12cm and should contain the names of the NHAI & toll plaza operator. The receipt must be printed in bi-lingual or tri-lingual as appropriate and each line in the receipt must have the same font size. The receipt must contain the toll plaza location, helpline No., ambulance contact No., crane contact No., etc.
FACTLY has collected toll receipts from some toll plazas to check whether they have any contact numbers for exigencies mentioned in the concession agreement. It was found that they all had helpline numbers.
While it is true that toll receipts have helpline numbers, all the services written in the post are not provided by the toll plazas. The ambulance service is provided but tyre puncture and refuelling services were not mentioned. The concession agreements also do not mention these services. FACTLY has also tried to contact Toll Plaza managers and this article will be updated upon receiving a reply.
Also, the ‘1033’ helpline (the single point of contact for public in case of accident or other emergencies on National Highways), by IHMCL (NHAI jointly with its Concessionaires and Financial Institutions incorporated Indian Highways Management Company Limited (IHMCL)), can be used by all the users of national highways. It is not limited to just toll payers. So, the post is misleading people by asking them to carry toll receipts to avail these services.
To sum it up, toll receipts are not mandatory to avail the emergency services on the National Highways.
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