SEMENYIH: Former prime minister Najib Razak has poked fun at the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government over its plan to replace toll collection along four highways with congestion charges, saying no one will benefit from the free “off-peak” period between 11pm and 5am.
“It is illogical, given that the time for no charges is when people go to sleep. We want to give it to people for free when they are conscious, not when they are asleep.
“Who will stay awake from 11pm to 5am? Only ghosts, drinkers, LGBT and those who are looking for customers, maybe,” he said, addressing a crowd of nearly 200 people here last night.
No one would go home from office at 11pm, he said, questioning the truth of PH’s words.
“Compare this to my time – I abolished 11 tolls although I never promised anything.
“When I say abolish, it means free. Abolish it, freeze and close it.”
He also criticised the proposed congestion charge, calling it unfair.
Putrajaya recently announced that it was in talks with Gamuda Bhd to negotiate the acquisition of highway concessions in which the company has a majority stake.
Upon successful takeover of the highways, it said, the government intended to abolish the existing toll mechanism.
The four highways in question are the Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong (LDP), Sistem Penyuraian Trafik KL Barat (Sprint), Lebuhraya Shah Alam (Kesas) and the SMART Tunnel.
According to the plan, congestion charges equivalent to the existing toll will be introduced during the “peak period”.
During “off-peak” period between 11pm and 5am, commuters will travel on the highways for free, while at other normal hours, they will receive a discount of up to 30% of existing toll rates.
In his speech, Najib also criticised Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali for diverging from the view of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
Following the official statement from the PMO, Azmin reportedly said the decision to do away with toll collection was still under negotiation.
“How can his statement be different from the one released by the PMO?
“I don’t think the prime minister would issue such a statement if there was no discussion with the other ministers. And such a statement must have gotten approval from the prime minister.”
During his time, he said, statements would not be issued without discussion with other ministers.
“What kind of administration is this?”