The government has put down the terms of PLUS Malaysia’s concession extension in writing, with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) confirming that motorists will enjoy an 18% decrease in toll rates as part of the move, starting from as early as February 1.

In a press release, the administration said that under the 20-year extension, the highway concessionaire will cut rates on the North-South Expressway, North Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE), North–South Expressway Central Link (ELITE), Malaysia-Singapore Second Link (LINKEDUA), East Coast Expressway (ECE) Phase 2, Seremban-Port Dickson Highway (SPDH), Butterworth-Kulim Expressway (BKE) and the Penang Bridge.

The PMO gave the example of the toll rate on the North-South Expressway, which will drop from 13.6 sen per kilometre to 11.15 sen per kilometre – lower than the 1999 rate of 11.24 sen per kilometre. This means that a drive from Jalan Duta to Alor Setar will cost RM45.50 instead of RM55.50, while a journey from Jalan Duta to Skudai will cost RM38.50 instead of the existing RM47.

As mentioned before, the lower rates come as part of PLUS’ renewed concession on all of its highways, which have been extended from 2038 to 2058 – enabling the company to continue maintaining and operating the roads without relying on the government. This also ensures that there will be no toll hikes for the next 38 years (until the end of the concession), negating the rising rates afforded under the previous deals.

In addition, the reduction comes without any compensation from the government, and in fact the latter will no longer have to pay anything to PLUS, saving it an estimated RM42 billion throughout the concession period. The PMO said that PLUS will continue to be the operator of its highways and hold all of its liabilities and assets, and will manage the costs of highway operation and maintenance on its own. Khazanah Nasional and the Employment Provident Fund (EPF) will remain shareholders of PLUS.

The PMO said the cabinet’s decision follows more than a year of research and deliberation by a number of agencies, including the works ministry, finance ministry and the ministry of economic affairs. It also said the cabinet has evaluated and considered various proposals that have been offered, in order to make the best decision for all parties, including the people.

The government is said to be confident that the decision will provide manifold benefits to the people by ensuring a reduction in tolls while keeping PLUS in a good financial standing. It promises that the RM42 billion it saved will now be used for other initiatives that will benefit the people. The toll rate reduction, said the PMO, is subject to the approval of PLUS shareholders.