This one just won’t go to rest. The works ministry says it will submit proposals to the cabinet about the possibility of reducing toll rates – or abolishing collection – once discussions with highway concessionaires are completed, Bernama reports.

According to works minister Baru Bian, the ministry has been given six months to hold discussions and settle the issue. “We are discussing to see if there are provisions allowing for a review of the concession agreement,” he told the Dewan Rakyat.

“As of now, the concessionaires understand Pakatan Harapan’s direction and they are very open (to discussions). We will study if there is a space in the agreements that will allow us to review them, and we will act accordingly,” he explained.

He said toll collection on all tolled highways in the country has more than doubled the cost it took to build them, as The Sun reports. He said there were currently 29 tolled expressways still operating nationwide, and these cost RM35.14 billion to construct, with a further RM2.5 billion spent on operational and maintenance cost on them each year. However, the concessionaires have collected RM74.65 billion since toll collection began, up to 2017.

“The government has also paid compensation worth RM5.11 billion between 1990 and 2017,” he said. Baru stated that of the 29 concession agreements, two were scheduled to end in the next 10 years, 16 were set to end between 11 and 20 years, and the remaining 11 scheduled to end over 20 years.

Last month, Baru reiterated that there would be no abolishment of tolled roads until the country’s finances have recovered, but said that the government was looking at ways to ease the burden on motorists’ wallets. Proposed measures include lowering the toll rates, granting percentage discounts during off-peak hours and not raising toll rates in the next two to three years.