This is a truly a year of price hikes. Joining the announced impending hike of RON97 prices is a new announcement that toll rates are going to go up. The Malaysian government has approved a toll rate hike for 5 highways, according to Works Minister Mohamad Zin Mohamad. It has not been revealed yet how much exactly the rate increase will be, but the following are the highways that are expected to have their rates hiked:

  • PLUS North-South Expressway – approximately 5%
  • Sprint Highway, Kerinchi Link and Damansara Link – up 30 and 50 sen for Pantai and Damansara respectively
  • Ampang-Kuala Lumpur Expressway – up 50 sen
  • Sungai Besi Highway (Besraya) – up 10 sen
  • New Pantai Expressway – up 40 sen

Mohamed Zin said the increase was actually due in January 2008 but the government had compensated the toll concessionaires a total of RM 277 million to postpone the toll hike until 1st of March 2009 (a total of 14 months), when the hikes are scheduled to happen. Of the 277 million, the lion’s share of 177 million goes to PLUS.

Our PM Pak Lah in his last month of service has said he will ask the Cabinet to reconsider the toll hikes as the decision is not “appropriate at current situations” (why can’t these factors be considered before an announcement, perhaps it’s symbolic as Pak Lah’s last flip flop during his tenure), while Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng says the hike should be postponed at least another 2 years.

Frankly, you can call these companies greedy but they have shareholders to answer to so why not take the opportunity to earn more when it is allowed legally in black and white? The only ones to blame are whoever signed those toll agreements!

DAP has an interesting proposal – buy PLUS shares and make it toll-free after the year 2015. Read here, here and here.