Following the announcement that toll rates for 18 highways will be increased on October 15, 2015, it was revealed that there has been a drop in traffic on these highways of between five to 10%, as motorists look to alternative roads to avoid paying toll.

Speaking to Nanyang Siang Pau on Wednesday, Association of Highway Concessionaires Malaysia (PSKLM) president Datuk Zainudin A. Kadir said that this reaction from motorists is to be expected as they are unhappy with the toll hikes, and would therefore aim to avoid tolled roads.

“This is probably the beginning. Given the ease in the use of navigation apps installed on smartphones, such as Waze, the figures may go up,” he said.

However, the Prolintas Group chief executive mentioned that not all highways are making profits because they still need to finance hefty loans, where it will take at least 10 to 15 years to recoup their capital. He added that a drop in traffic volume on the highways will also cause concessionaires to experience a reduction in income.

Datuk Zainudin also pointed out that the prevalent haze, which resulted in school closures could also have contributed to the dip in traffic volume.

On another note, PSKLM committee member and Ekovest Berhad managing director Datuk Lim Keng Cheng pointed out that almost all new highway concessions are loss-making, save for the older ones, citing the Duta-Ulu Klang (DUKE) highway as an example.

The saying “highway concessions are sure to make profit” applied only to the first batch of concessions according to both Datuk Zainudin and Datuk Lim. “Those who jumped on the bandwagon later on do not enjoy such guarantee of profit anymore,” they said.