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Friday, February 27, 2009

Works Minister Announce Toll Increase, PM said Hold On!

Bad Road

Many of people at the moment forget and don't care anymore about current oil pricing. Since the government dropped the price down to RM1.80/liter, everybody looks happy and comfortable with it. Good. Satisfying with the price is not wrong; I did too, but all i ask is don't be ignorant (katak bawah tempurung). We all must know the latest news and keep updated. The oil price is now at USD38/barrel and roughly we actually deserve to get cheaper than RM1.80/liter. I don't want to talk more about the issue. The main issue is as follows.

KUALA LUMPUR: Road users will have to pay higher tolls for five major highways beginning March 1. The highways affected are the North-South Expressway (PLUS), Sprint/Kerinchi/Damansara Link highways, Ampang-Kuala Lumpur Expressway (AKLEH), Sungai Besi Highway and the New Pantai Expressway (NPE). For the PLUS highway, it will be an increase of 5%. This means toll charges from Bukit Kayu Hitam in Kedah to Kempas in Johor would increase from RM108 to RM113.40.

A trip from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh would increase from RM26.50 to RM27.90. For the Sprint/Kerinchi/Damansara Link highways, it will be an increase of between 30sen and 50sen. The Sungai Besi Highway will see an increase of 10sen, while the AKLEH and NPE will be increased by 50sen and 40sen respectively. In announcing this, Works Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Zin Mohammed said the increase was minimal and hoped the public understood that the increase was stipulated in the concession agreements that the government had signed.

Everything is increased. The increase that affect my life significantly is the increase of Sungai Besi Highway by 10sen because everyday I'll use the road to work. 10sen x 2 x 23 working days = RM4.60. Not too bad. RM4.60 x 12 = RM55.20 per year. Wahh..hmm but not too bad either..

“The increase was actually due in January last year but we had postponed it until now. This means the government has been paying compensation for 14 months.”

Mohd Zin said the compensation amounted to RM277mil with RM177mil going to PLUS, RM38mil to Sprint and RM30mil to AKLEH, adding that the impending increase was half of what was scheduled.

“There is a shortfall of 5%,” he said during a press conference at the Works Ministry on Wednesday.

The announcement for the increase however comes almost immediately after two toll booths were abolished recently. The Salak Jaya toll (south-bound) was abolished on Tuesday while the toll at PJS2 (Kuala Lumpur-bound) of the New Pantai Expressway was abolished on Feb 13. Mohd Zin said the abolishments were unrelated to the toll increase and that it should not be politicised, stressing that it was a contractual obligation on the government’s part.

He said more importantly was that alternative routes existed for all highways in the country, adding that this was the case for all highways but added that more could be done to improve the alternative routes.
When pointed out that the roads were jammed especially in the city regardless of whether it was a highway or an alternative route, Mohd Zin said it was a big challenge having to manage the amount of traffic Kuala Lumpur has.

“Kuala Lumpur has 3.5 million vehicles for a population of about five million people.

"Tokyo only has 1.3 million vehicles for a population of 20 million,” Mohd Zin said, concluding that more effort was needed to improve public transport.

The consession agreement between government with those toll parties is indeed an unfair. How come the government can agree on such thing in the first place? Let me give you an example. Me is government and you is toll company. 1) Every month you will get profits of RM5. If u got less, I'll pay you the shorts. You agree. 2) But if you get profits more than RM5, lets split the profits. You dont agree. For some reason, both agree with condition 1 only. What??!! Ok the funny thing is a PM reply from Pataya (suddenly I feel like want to eat Nasi Goreng Pataya lah).

PATTAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi wants the decision to
increase toll rates on five highways, which was announced earlier Thursday morning, to be reconsidered. He said the matter will be discussed in the Cabinet meeting Friday, which will be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The Prime Minister is here to attend the Asean Defence Minister’s Meeting. On Friday, he will attend the Asean Summit in Hua Hin Friday. Abdullah said the decision to increase the toll rates on March 1, which was announced by Works Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Zin Mohammed, was made three weeks ago.

”However, the situation has now changed, and the economy has not become better as yet, which was why we recently decided to introduce the second stimulus package or the mini-budget. People are having difficulties. The situation is not right for a toll hike. I felt that this matter needed to be discussed again in the Cabinet. The decision may come in the form of measures that will included in the second stimulus package or through some other measures. I think that’s the best we can do - do a review and decide on whatever that is appropriate,” he told reporters.

Abdullah said the people should understand that the toll increase was connected to the highway concession agreements made between the Government and the concessionaires, in which major roads were be constructed by private initiatives through toll collections. Asked whether the imposition of the new toll rates would be postponed, Abdullah said the people cannot accept the increase now.

”The new rates were to begin on March 1. It has not been implemented yet. So, there’s still time, and the Cabinet will have to make another report on the matter. The technical issues will be handled by the Finance Minister,” he added.

Thanks Pak Lah!

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