Congestion charge on tolled highways only a proposal, says Baru

Works Minister Baru Bian.

KUALA LUMPUR: The congestion charge the government said it would introduce for four tolled highways is only a proposal which it will consider, said Works Minister Baru Bian.

Baru said this when asked why the government announced that a congestion charge would be implemented when a study on the reduction of toll rates had yet to be presented to the Cabinet.

“I think it was just an announcement, one of the proposals being considered by the government,” he said in an interview with the press.

In February, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said it had initiated talks with Gamuda Berhad to negotiate the acquisition of highway concessions in which the company has a majority stake, namely Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong (LDP), Sistem Penyuraian Trafik KL Barat (SPRINT), Lebuhraya Shah Alam (Kesas) and the SMART Tunnel.

The PMO said that upon the successful takeover of these highways, it would abolish the toll mechanism and introduce a congestion charge during peak hours, a 30% discounted rate at “normal” hours and remove charges from 11pm to 5am.

Baru said the independent consultant appointed to study the reduction in tolls would complete the study in May.

“We will study it and discuss it in the Cabinet and a decision can be expected in June.”

He said the congestion charge will be taken into consideration by the consultant.

Baru, the Selangau MP, also said he would work with Rural and Regional Development Minister Rina Harun on the development of roads on state land in Sarawak as these came under her purview.

Only certain roads, such as the Pan Borneo Highway and roads leading to ports and airports in the state, came under his ministry’s purview.

Touching on his achievements during his first year as works minister, Baru cited the abolition of tolls for motorcycles on the two Penang bridges and the second link to Singapore, in Tanjung Kupang, Johor.

He said this initiative benefited 72,000 motorcyclists who would enjoy savings of between RM24 and RM66 a month.

He also cited the realignment of the Pan Borneo Highway to bypass Brunei and benefit the people in the rural areas and catalyse the economy instead.