By Ong Kian Ming
Every weekday evening, without fail, there is a long traffic jam that starts from the Besraya Sungai Besi toll all the way to the Mines Shopping Mall.
This 2.4km-long bumper-to-bumper traffic frustrates drivers no end because motorists are effectively paying to get stuck in traffic.
This traffic jam has not been reduced even after the implementation of a contra-traffic flow which opens one additional lane after the Besraya toll heading towards Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).
What many motorists are not aware of is the fact that the government, specifically, the works ministry, can take action against the toll concessionaire if these traffic jams persist.
Besraya, the toll concessionaire must ensure a Level of Service (LOS) “C” at the toll plaza and/or at the immediate interchange.
LOS “C” means a stable or near free flow of traffic. During peak hours, the LOS after the Besraya Sungai Besi toll is “F”, which is bumper-to-bumper traffic.
According to the concession agreement, if the traffic flow falls below LOS “C”, the toll concessionaire must appoint a traffic consultant to do a traffic assessment.
If the traffic consultant confirms that the LOS has fallen to below the “C” level of service, then the concessionaire must apply for flexible tolling.
This means that during off-peak hours, the toll rate must be reduced by at least 10%.
This is to encourage more motorists to use the toll road during off-peak hours rather than during peak hours.
Peak and off-peak toll when Level of Service (LOS) falls below service level “C” during peak hours:
(a) 6.30am – 9.30am
(b) 4.30pm – 7pm
Toll rate — as per agreement
(a) 9.31am – 4.29pm
(b) 7.01pm – 6.29am
Minimum 10% lower than the agreed toll in this agreement.
If a reduction in off-peak toll rates fails to bring the LOS to service level “C”, then the concessionaire must upgrade the toll plaza or the affected interchange at its own cost.
During this time, the concessionaire must pay the government an amount equivalent to 10% of the estimated cost of the upgrading works per month for the inconvenience caused until the appropriate upgrading work is completed.
For example, if the upgrading works cost a total of RM10 million, the concessionaire must pay the government RM1 million a month until the upgrading work is completed.
The failure of the works ministry to take any action against the Besraya toll concessionaire clearly shows that this government has no political will to take on the toll concessionaires.
Instead, this BN government has no problems paying millions of ringgit to these toll concessionaires in compensation for not raising toll rates.
The total compensation paid to Besraya from the start of the concession period until 2015 was RM77.6 million.
Instead of paying out these millions to Besraya, the government should ask Besraya to solve the traffic jam problem at its Sungai Besi toll and fine the concessionaire, as per the terms and conditions of the concession agreement, as long as the traffic problem has not been resolved.
Ong Kian Ming is Serdang MP.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.