PETALING JAYA: The next general election (GE14) will be more than just a vote for either the current ruling Federal Government led by Umno-Barisan Nasional (BN) or the Pakatan Harapan, comprising PKR, DAP, Amanah and PPBM.
According to DAP’s Ong Kian Ming, the vote will also decide if Malaysians will end up paying more money to use highways around the country, as a vote for BN will most likely see toll rates increase.
“For those who still can remember, the BN Manifesto for the 13th general election (GE13) in 2013 promised ‘the gradual reduction of intra-city tolls’. Since intra-city tolls are found mostly in the Klang Valley (KL and Selangor), one would have expected the toll rates on the major intra-city highways such as MEX, SILK, BESRAYA, LDP and SPRINT to be reduced.
“But two and a half years after GE13, the BN government failed to deliver on its manifesto promise when it allowed toll hikes of between RM0.20 to RM2.30 on 18 toll highways,” Ong said in a statement.
The Serdang MP said the same would occur should BN retain Putrajaya in GE14, which must be called within the next nine months.
“It is almost guaranteed that the BN will allow at least one round of toll hikes after GE14. Quite a number of toll highways have had their toll hikes postponed including all of the tolls owned by PLUS (NSE, NKVE, ELITE, LPT) and KESAS.
“Quite a number of tolls have also not received their allowable toll hikes as per their respective concession agreements (including the LDP). During this time, the government has had to pay compensation to these toll concessionaires for postponing the toll hikes.
“Given the financial pressures which the government is under, it is very unlikely that they would want to continue to pay the toll compensations which means that toll hikes are all but guaranteed,” Ong said.
He added that Pakatan Harapan would instead take over these toll concessionaires as per the terms and conditions in the concession agreements which will lead to the eventual end to all toll collections on Malaysian roads.
According to Ong, who is also DAP’s election strategist, there was supposed to be a 5% hike for all of the tolls under PLUS in 2016 but it was not implemented.
“It had been reported that PLUS is allowed to increase its toll rate by 5% every three years. If the toll hike that was supposed to take place in 2016 is lumped together with the projected toll hike in 2019, all of the tolls under PLUS would increase by 10% in price.”
Ong also took a swipe at Prime Minister Najib Razak’s announcement in the Budget 2018 speech on the abolishing of four tolls, including the Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL) which is owned by MRCB.
“The BN government has shown that it is willing to take over loss-making tolls such as the EDL in Johor but continues to pay out billions in compensation to the concessionaires which own and operate the profitable tolls such as the LDP.
“This is another clear example of how losses by private companies are socialised, that is taken over by the government but profits are privatised for the enjoyment of these toll concession companies.
“The only way that this can be stopped is if there is a change in the federal government in GE14.”