Toll-free roads not possible, says Dr M

BALI: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad says it is not possible to have highways without imposing toll collection as well.

He also revealed that he had been against the pledge for toll-free highways in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) 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 told Bernama and RTM at the conclusion of the inaugural Asean Leaders Gathering here yesterday.

The prime minister asked who would maintain the roads or build new ones if the government did away with toll collection.

“You tell the private sector to do the roads. They want to make money, but if you don’t have toll, how can you make money?”

In England, he said, there were no tolled roads but the country imposed a heavy tax on petroleum. When petrol prices go up, he added, the tax goes even higher.

“So they use that money. But if you get the money out of the sale of petroleum, people who do not use the highway also have to pay.

“Here, (highway) users pay. This is our belief. The users pay. Those people who are not using (the roads), why should they pay?”

Mahathir previously said the PH government would need to review its manifesto pledges as some would cause great losses if implemented.