The Malaysian government is optimistic about the chances of toll-free highways materialising in the country, said deputy works minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin. This, however, will take time, she said in a Bernama report.

Stretches of highway considered include the Pan Borneo Expressway in Sabah and Sarawak as well as the Central Spine Road (CSR) which traverses Pahang towards Kelantan.

A review of toll rates and structures is in the works, led by initiatives such as the postponement of toll rate increases which has been put in place several times, she said. The idea is to subsequently have several tolls abolished.

This was in response to a question by a member of parliament regarding the abolition of tolls, who said it is not impossible since four tolls, namely in Batu Tiga and Sungai Rasau, Selangor; Bukit Kayu Hitam, Kedah; and the Eastern Dispersal Link, Johor, had already been abolished.

“The government has also made some improvements to the terms of the concession agreements to ensure the needs of the people are met, the interests of the government are preserved, and at the same time being fair to the concessionaires, as opposed to the terms of agreements under the previous leadership,” Rosnah added.

The government had also inserted an ‘exit clause’ where, if concessionaires had achieved their Internal Rate of Return, the concession agreement could be terminated earlier, said Rosnah. As of December 31, 2017 there were 31 tolled highways in the country, and the annual operating and maintenance cost for a highway (for 2016) was between RM6.82 million and RM1.5 billion, she stated.