While the LDP users, especially residents in the affected
areas, will save 50 sen per trip, they
and other taxpayers will have to
shoulder the burden of paying RM85mil in
compensation to the concessionaire for
that road alone.
Motorists have been told that there will
no new highways until the people want
them and are willing to pay.
Generally, users are willing to pay for
better quality roads. The contention has
always been over the amount of toll
The over-riding factor now is that the
Government can no longer afford to
subsidise road users.
With scarce funds, subsidies used to pay
these toll operators should by right be
used to pay for development
Thanks to an unprecedented period of
economic boom, we saw the expansion of
the middle class. More Malaysians
began owning a car or two.
Bus operators may pass the cost of
increased toll charges to passengers but
the amount would be minimal.
Taxis and buses pay half the charges for
commercial trucks and private cars,
leaving a mild effect on the lower
Motorcyclists don't have to pay toll.
Likewise, if you take the commuter train
or the LRT.
The biggest beneficiaries are car
owners. Not only do city folk travel
more, there is wider use of highways for
Like the LDP protest and the Cheras toll
issue some years ago, the loudest
complaints came from the
Generally, motorists do not mind a small
increase in toll charges for inter-state
roads but they are likely to be more
angry when it comes to city roads.
The reason is simple. Motorists feel cheated when they have to pay for short trips like sending their
children to school or going marketing.
A wage earner may feel the pinch of
having to set aside RM150 to pay toll,
besides his other obligations.
Rather than stop building highways, the Government should perhaps concentrate on inter state link
We cannot ignore the fact that highways
have cut our travelling time, which
means lower fuel consumption and less
wear and tear on vehicles. And most
accidents occur on trunk roads, not
Remember spending six to eight hours on
trunk roads to balik kampung during festive seasons? When an accident
occurs, the traffic jam can be
horrifying because the roads are too
In the case of a breakdown, there was no
one to turn to for help. Now, we take
for granted the back-up service from
Neither can we forget those embarrassing
toilets at unhygenic coffee-shops and roadside
With the highways, long-distance travel has become so much pleasant.
There's always a price for everything and sometimes we tend to forget the larger picture.
To refresh our memories, we had opted
for privatisation because it was felt that the private sector would be able to carry out projects quicker and more efficient.
The North-South Highway was one example.
We wanted a world-class quality road
never before seen in Malaysia, and we got it in record time.
The idea was to let the private sector
build these road linkages, with the
Government imposing some conditions in
Once the roads are built, the operators
must maintain and upgrade them. Such an obligation runs to hundreds of millions of ringgit.
Like all businesses, concessionaires seek to make money, too. The Government, on its part, must honour all business deals if it is to be viewed positively by the business community in attracting investments.
For future agreements, it may be
worthwhile to provide a longer concession period but with lower rates.
It will also be worthwhile for the
Government to insist on the maintenance
of alternative roads.
If we operate on the open-toll system
concept, meaning not every motorist would have to pay the whole amount, then alternative roads are
Obviously, there are political
ramifications when toll charges
rise. More so with the general
election looming. And, aware of
ground sentiments, Barisan Nasional component parties also objected to
the toll increase.