toll booth

Stunned by the drastic toll rate hikes last year? It looks like there could be more on the horizon, as the government will soon decide on whether it should allow the rates for eight more highways to be increased, according to The Sun.

The English language daily quoted Sin Chew Daily – in the latter’s report, works minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said that to maintain the toll charges at the current rate, the government would have to compensate the concessionaires, and such huge payouts will burden the government with long-term debts.

He added that the government is facing a difficult decision with regards to this issue, as there are only two options it can take under the toll restructuring plan – allow the rates to increase and make motorists pay more for using the highway, or to foot the heavy cost of compensation.

Fadillah went on to say that the concessionaires were allowed to increase the toll rate on eight highways – the North-South Expressway (PLUS), Second Link Expressway (Linkedua), Shah Alam Expressway (KESAS), Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP), Butterworth-Kulim Expressway (BKE), Seremban-Port Dickson Highway (SPDH) and New North Klang Straits Bypass Expressway (NNKSB) – on January 1 this year, according to the agreements signed with them. The LDP had already seen a hike last year.

damansara-puchong-expressway-ldp

If the government ends up blocking the rate increases, it would have to pay compensation amounting to some RM593 million to date. “If the government delays in approving the toll hike, the amount (of compensation) will keep increasing every year. In other words, it will become a long-term debt for the government,” Fadillah said.

The minister added that between 2008 and 2014, the government had rejected requests to increase toll rates by highway concessionaires, resulting in the payment of more than RM2.2 billion in compensation – which he said was done out of consideration of the welfare of road users.

Fadillah declined to give any details as to whether the toll rates will go up after the government’s negotiations with highway concessionaires is concluded soon, adding that the committee tasked with negotiations will submit its report to the cabinet for a decision after the talks are completed.

Last year, a total of eighteen highways across Malaysia saw toll rate hikes, all on one day, October 15. These include AKLEH, Besraya, DUKE, Grand Saga, Guthrie Corridor Expressway, Kajang SILK, Karak, LATAR, LEKAS, LKSA, MEX, NPE, SMART tunnel, Senai-Desaru Expressway, SKVE, Butterworth Outer Ring Road (BORR), Sprint Expressway and the LDP.