JPJ may adopt RFID tags for digital vehicle IDs, can be used to pay tolls – transport minister Wee Ka Siong

More news on Touch ‘n Go’s radio frequency identification (RFID) system for toll payments, which has drawn comments, criticism and apologies from various quarters. Transport minister Wee Ka Siong said that the Road Transport Department (JPJ) is planning to issue digital identification for vehicles in the future, which may include RFID tags, according to Free Malaysia Today.

Wee added that the government has been studying new technologies for vehicle registration IDs, such as QR codes, chips and, of course, RFID tags. “The RFID system will allow enforcement to be carried out through automation to ensure accurate readings [of vehicle registrations] and, in turn, minimise costs.”

The minister also mentioned that JPJ will ensure its RFID tags will be able to be used for toll payments, among other things, should it go ahead with such a system. “If JPJ adopts the RFID technology, we will ensure that it is compatible and can be used for other purposes, including toll payments, to avoid the need to have many RFID tags on one vehicle,” he told the publication.

Wee said there were 33.1 million registered vehicles in the JPJ database and 16.2 million car and motorcycle licence holders nationwide, against an estimated population of 33 million people. He added that the proposed digitalisation could assist the ministry and the Malaysian Highway Authority (LLM) in implementing the multi-lane free flow (MLFF) system for tolls by 2025.

“We will bring it to the Cabinet for approval. We hope to provide a solution to the LLM and the rakyat,” he said. This was backed by a confirmation from works minister Fadillah Yusof via text that his ministry was involved in the discussion: “Yes, that’s part of the plan [for MLFF],”

Curiously, FMT reported that a possible implementation of RFID tags for vehicle identification will bring down the price of Touch ‘n Go’s tags, although this was not specifically mentioned by Wee. It is hoped, however, that such a move will prevent motorists from having to buy a separate tag for toll payments.

The RM35 Touch ‘n Go charges for an RFID self-fitment kit was one of the main points of criticism from the public, following former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s viral Facebook post saying that passive tags cost less than RM1 to make. It was previously reported that the government demanded an rationale behind the pricing from Touch ‘n Go and highway concessionaire PLUS ahead of a possible reduction.

It is also unclear whether digital vehicle IDs will replace the road tax stickers currently issued by JPJ, which are now 21 years old. The transport ministry mooted the use of an RFID tag for identification as early as 2005, and in 2018, it was said that such a system could assist police and other authorities to track down criminals. Real-time monitoring on road traffic conditions was also touted.

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