PETALING JAYA: The current administration under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been abolishing or preventing toll hikes whereas under former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, toll consessionaires made profit through contractualisations.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan said the Mahathir administration saw toll consessionaires being favoured at the expense of highway users by way of toll price hikes.
He said it is during Najib’s administration that sees a rationalisation plan to abolish or prevent toll hikes.
Abdul Rahman Dahlan pointed this out when commenting on a news report which cited the former prime minister as saying that toll prices in Malaysia were one of the lowest in the world.
“Being the populist that they are, Pakatan Harapan announced that they will abolish all tolls without giving any strategy, evidence and plans on how to do this,” Abdul Rahman was quoted as saying.
PH, he explained, did not provide figures on the costing and a comprehensive mechanism that would realise the strategy.
Abdul Rahman, who is also BN strategic communications director described the move to be yet another irresponsible and irrational move by PH and advised the public not to believe its empty promises.
“This is their way to continue to push and mislead the people with their agenda.
“This morning, PH’s future prime minister candidate threw cold water on their initial idea of abolishing tolls by justifying why tolls are necessary,” said Abdul Rahman.
He warned that such conflicts and contradiction within PH would only lead to what he described as the “perfect storm” in the coalition.
“At the end of the day, it will be the people of this country who will suffer from this,” he added.
Mahathir had earlier reminded the public “to think twice before complaining about high toll rates” as they were not paying as much as other countries through a live telecast session called “Policy Talks”.
Saying he realised Malaysians were unhappy to pay tolls, Mahathir said unfortunately there was no other way for highway consessionaires to operate without imposing toll fares.
He cited an example of a bridge he had travelled on in Japan which imposed a RM270 toll for a one-way journey and more than RM500 for both ways and went on to compare it to the Penang Bridge which costs only RM7 for a return fare.
Rahman said under Najib, a rationalisation of toll charges and executed to ensure abolition of toll fares or prevention of toll price hikes.
“For example, the North-South Expressway was acquired by Khazanah and the Employees Provident Fund in 2010 to rebalance the toll-charging mechanism.
“It no longer heavily profits the consessionaires awarded the contract. In this case, 51 per cent is held by the government and 49 per cent by the EPF account holders.”
He explained that under the full ownership, concession agreement was revised and renegotiated, hence all PLUS-owned highways, such as the North-South Highway, Penang Bridge and the Tuas Second Link, did not see any toll increase since 2009 after Najib took over.
“On top of that, some tolls were abolished in the 2018 Budget.
These were at Batu Tiga, Sungai Rasau, Johor Bahru EDL Expressway and Bukit Kayu Hitam,” he explained.
Rahman said various pre-existing tolls on roads dating back to the Mahathir-era in Sarawak were also abolished.
” This made Sarawak a toll-free state.
“Additionally, major new highways, such as the Central Spine Road (CSR) and the Pan-Borneo Highway, that started construction under this Najib government are also designated to be completely toll-free,” Abdul Rahman added.