• Expect Toll Hikes if Barisan Nasional (BN) wins the 14th General Election

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang and Assistant Political Education Director for the Democratic Action Party (DAP) on the 28th of November 2017

    Expect Toll Hikes if Barisan Nasional (BN) wins the 14th General Election

    For those who still can remember, the BN Manifesto for the 13th General Election in 2013 promised ‘the gradual reduction of intra-city tolls’ (Figure 1 below). Since intra-city tolls are found mostly in the Klang Valley (KL and Selangor), one would have expected the toll rates on the major intra-city highways such as MEX, SILK, BESRAYA, LDP and SPRINT to be reduced.

    Figure 1: Barisan Nasional (BN)’s GE2013 Manifesto promising the ‘gradual reduction of intra-city tolls

    But two and a half years after the 13th general election, the BN government failed to deliver on its manifesto promise when it allowed toll hikes of between RM0.20 to RM2.30 on eighteen toll highways.[1] (See Figure 2 below) For example, the toll for the MEX highway to Putrajaya was increased from RM2.50 to RM3.50. The toll for the LDP highway was increased by RM0.50 from RM1.60 to RM2.10. The toll for the Karak highway at Gombak was increased by RM1 from Rm5.00 to RM6.00. In my own constituency, the toll for the BESRAYA highway was increased by RM0.70 from RM1.30 to RM2.00 and the toll for the SILK highway was increased by RM0.80 from RM1.00 to RM1.80.

    What will likely happen in GE14 if the BN managed to win power? It is almost guaranteed that the BN will allow at least one round of toll hikes after GE14. Quite a number of toll highways have had their toll hikes postponed including all of the tolls owned by PLUS (NSE, NKVE, ELITE, LPT) and KESAS. Quite a number of tolls have also not received their allowable toll hikes as per their respective concession agreements (including the LDP). During this time, the government has had to pay compensation to these toll compensations for postponing the toll hikes.

    Figure 2: Toll hikes in the Klang Valley implemented on the 12th of October, 2015

    Given the financial pressures which the government is under, it is very unlikely that they would want to continue to pay the toll compensations which means that toll hikes are all but guaranteed. How much will the toll rates increase? Table 1 below shows the projected increase in the toll rates as stated in the respective concession agreements. For all of the tolls under PLUS, there was supposed to be a price hike of 5% in 2016 but it was not implemented. According to newspaper reports, PLUS is allowed to increase its toll rate by 5% every three years. If the toll hike that was supposed to take place in 2016 is lumped together with the projected toll hike in 2019, all of the tolls under PLUS would increase by 10% in price. For example, a one-way trip from the Damansara toll in Petaling Jaya to the Jawi toll in Penang would increase by RM4.05 from RM40.50 to RM44.55 and a one-way trip from the Sungai Besi toll in KL to the Skudai toll in Johor Bahru would increase by RM4.13 from Rm41.3 to RM45.43. The cost of one-way trip on the ELITE highway from KLIA to the Jalan Duta toll would increase by RM0.91 from RM9.1 to RM10.01. The cost of a one-way trip on the NKVE from Damansara to Setia Alam would increase by RM0.27 from RM2.70 to RM2.97.

    The price of each of the three tolls along the KESAS highway would increase from RM2.00 to Rm2.50. The Cheras-Kajang toll will increase from RM1.30 to RM1.80 at the Cheras Batu 9 and the Cheras Batu 11 tolls. The LDP toll rate in Puchong will increase from RM2.10 to RM3.10. The AKLEH toll rate will increase from RM2.50 to RM3.50. The SPRINT toll rate at Plaza Damansara, Plaza Pantai and Bukit Kiara will increase from RM2 to RM2.50, from RM2.50 to RM3.50 and from RM3.00 to RM5.00 respectively. The GUTHRIE highway toll rate will increase from RM1.90 to RM2.60. The Gombak toll for the KARAK highway will increase from RM6.00 to RM8.00 and the Bentong toll rate will increase from RM3.50 to RM5.00. (See Table 1 below for a summary of the projected toll rate increases after GE14)

    Table 1: Projected Increase in Toll Rates if BN wins GE14[2]

    Highway Name Toll Plaza Current (Nov 2017) Post GE14 # Increase Post GE14 % Increase Post GE14
    North South Highway (NSE) Damansara to JAWI (PJ to Penang) 40.5 42.53 to 44.55 2.03 to 4.05 5% to 10%
    North South Highway (NSE) Sungai Besi to Skudai (KL to JB) 41.3 43.37 to 45.43 2.07 to 4.13 5% to 10%
    NKVE Damansara to Setia Alam 2.7 2.84 to 2.97 0.14 to 0.27 5% to 10%
    ELITE KLIA to Jalan Duta 9.1 9.56 to 10.01 0.46 to 0.91 5% to 10%
    KESAS Awan Besar, Sunway & Kota Kemuning 2 2.5 0.5 25%
    Cheras-Kajang Cheras Batu 9 & Cheras Batu 11 1.3 1.8 0.5 38%
    BESRAYA Sungai Besi 2 2.2 0.2 10%
    NPE PJS2 1 2.3 1.3 130%
    LDP Puchong 2.10 3.10 1 48%
    AKLEH 2.5 3.5 1 40%
    SPRINT Plaza Damansara 2 2.5 0.5 25%
    Plaza Pantai 2.5 3.5 1 40%
    Bukit Kiara 3 5 2 67%
    GUTHRIE 1.9 2.6 0.7 37%
    New North Klang Straits Bypass (NNKSB) Kapar Toll 2.7 3.1 0.4 15%
    Bukit Raja Toll (Kapar Bound) 1.6 2.1 0.5 31%
    Bukit Raja Toll (Kport Klang Bound) 0.6 0.8 0.2 33%
    KARAK Gombak 6 8 2 33%
    Bentong 3.5 5 1.5 43%

    Rather than voting for a government that will increase the cost of living for each and every Malaysian, voters must choose Pakatan Harapan who has promised to take over these toll concessionaires as per the terms and conditions in the concession agreements which will lead to the eventual abolishment of the tolls. The BN government has shown that it is willing to take over loss-making tolls such as the Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL) in Johor but continues to pay out billions in compensation to the concessionaires which own and operate the profitable tolls such as the LDP. This is another clear example of how losses by private companies are socialized i.e. taken over by the government but profits are privatized for the enjoyment of these toll concession companies. The only way that this can be stopped is if there is a change in the federal government in GE14.

    [1] https://paultan.org/2015/10/12/12-highways-get-toll-rate-hike-highest-at-rm1-10/

    [2] The information in Table 1 is based on the concession agreements that was accessed at the library of the Malaysian Highway Authority (MHA) / Lembaga Lebuhraya Malaysia (LLM). The toll concession agreements for MEX, LKSA, LEKAS, DUKE, LATAR and SKVE were not available for public viewing.

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