Buying over PLUS won’t stop toll collection, says Mahathir

No final decision has been made on an offer to purchase PLUS highways.

PUTRAJAYA: Highway toll collection will continue even if concessionaire PLUS Malaysia Sdn Bhd is taken over by any other entity, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

He said the government is still considering an offer from Maju Holdings Sdn Bhd to take over PLUS.

“We are looking into the proposal. They (Maju Holdings) propose that there has to be toll collection, without which they will be unable to make the purchase as they will not get the returns.

“Their proposal includes a lowering of the toll rate. They want to do various other things, including repairing the roads. We are looking into the matter,” he told reporters after a meeting with senior civil servants here.

Mahathir said if the government wants to eliminate highway toll, it has to come up with a lot of money to take over the road concessionaires.

He said it will cost the government billions of ringgit to buy the highways and it does not have the money.

Mahathir asked how the highways will be maintained if toll collection is abolished.

“The problem is that all highways need to be maintained. They need to be enlarged sometimes and new lanes must be added. So, all that costs money.

“There’s been no final decision. We are still looking at it,” he said.

Besides the North-South Expressway, PLUS also operates the New Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE); Seremban-Port Dickson Highway; North-South Expressway Central Link (ELITE); Malaysia-Singapore Second Link; Butterworth-Kulim Expressway and Penang Bridge.

On the Cabinet giving its approval for motorcyle ride-hailing services like GoJek, Mahathir said consumers had other options if they think such services are not safe.

“If you feel it is not safe, don’t use them. We have a choice and we are not forcing you to take these motorcycle rides.”

Mahathir was responding to safety fears among the publiic on the service, especially for women.

Yesterday, the Cabinet had given the green light to implement the service, subject to viability studies and legal provisions.

The prime minister added that small businesses could also benefit from motorcyle ride-hailing services.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook said his ministry has been given a month to prepare and review the legal framework to implement the service.

He said this Cabinet approval is not for Gojek alone but all motorcycle ride-hailing services.

Loke dismissed reports that the government had already granted Gojek approval to operate in the country and stressed that the company had not submitted any application yet but had only held a meeting with Mahathir.

Loke said the ministry will take into account the legal, insurance and passenger safety aspects when preparing the report.

“Safety is our top priority. We must ensure public safety before we can implement this service,” he said.