PETALING JAYA: PPBM strategist Rais Hussin says the people could be confused over Pakatan Harapan’s promise to abolish tolls once in power.
He said the coalition’s election manifesto stated that toll charges would only be removed after reviewing the government’s agreement with the concessionaires and to look at ways on how toll could be reduced and abolished.
“Tun Mahathir (Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad) is stating a fact. The problem is many have not read the manifesto.
“Go back to the pages regarding the toll, it says PH will review, study the concession agreements and then we will do our best to see what and how we can reduce the cost of the toll and, if possible, eliminate the toll.
“Tun (Mahathir) is right in saying that it is impossible to completely eliminate toll collection because it is required to maintain the highways. We want to keep the collection of toll as low as possible by making sure the maintenance costs of the highways are not inflated as previously done. Everything is there in the manifesto,” he told FMT.
He added that a promise is a promise.
Mahathir had said that it was not possible to have highways without imposing toll collection as well and revealed that he had been against the pledge for toll-free highways in the manifesto.
“We made the manifesto thinking we would not be the government. Now we are the government, and this manifesto is a big burden.
“At that time, I was against it. The only way to have freeways and no toll is to raise the price of petrol,” he said.
The 6th promise in the PH manifesto states PH’s intention to abolish toll after taking over Putrajaya from Barisan Nasional. The manifesto states that it will review all highway concession agreements and will negotiate to get the best price to take over any toll concessions with the aim to abolish toll in stages.
In page 29 of the document, it states that PH believes that the provision of basic infrastructure, such as roads and highways, is the responsibility of the government.
Rais, who is also the chairman of the manifesto committee, said the government would take over the concessions with fair compensation and will reevaluate the manifesto but the principles would remain the same.
Earlier this month, Works Minister Baru Bian said the decision to abolish the highway toll collection would be made known in two to three months. He said the ministry had received several proposals from the highway concession companies involved and would evaluate all the proposals before making a decision.