You can say that with an expected two million vehicles per day on the North South Highway over the upcoming Hari Raya Aidilfitri travel period, balik kampung and pulang ke bandar trips won’t be for the faint-hearted. But jam is part of the festival package that we’ve come to accept – for the family, it’s all worth it, right?

It will be congested and journeys will take longer than usual, which means that R&Rs are all the more important. With that, PLUS has announced that all the R&R and lay-bys are “well prepared to welcome back all highway customers” and will be open 24 hours a day over the peak travel period.

“Two years have passed since most families across the country have been able to see each other for Raya, and as we move into the endemic phase, our business partners at all R&Rs and lay-bys can conduct their businesses as usual to provide the delicious fare for everyone to enjoy, making their journey delightful balik kampung experience,” said PLUS COO Datuk Zakaria Ahmad Zabidi.

“With hundreds of F&B outlets and kiosks, suraus and public restrooms made available 24 hours, highway customers can be rest assured that PLUS has their best interest and comfort at heart,” the concessionaire said. PLUS added that RELA personnel will be at the rest stops to manage traffic flow, and there will be additional mobile toilets and water tankers to accommodate the influx of visitors.

Don’t be surprised if an R&R is sealed off, as that’s a temporary measure to avoid overcrowding. If you encounter this, proceed to the next rest stop. Also note that there are toilets and suraus at toll plazas and highway exit points.

“In the event of overcrowding that disrupts traffic flow along the highway mainline, some of these rest areas will be temporarily closed to manage the congestion and will be immediately re-opened once the crowd had dispersed and traffic flow resumes back to normal. In such an occasion, highway customers are advised to proceed to the next nearest rest stop. Most importantly to highlight that alternatively, public restrooms and suraus are also available at the toll plazas and highway exit points,” Zakaria said.

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Of course, petrol stations along the NSE will also have F&B, toilet and surau facilities, and there are 109 stations along the highway. PLUS says that there will be free coffee at selected rest areas to refresh the weary traveller. Even if it’s not free, remember to buy a coffee or energy drink, or have a mini nap at the R&R if you’re feeling tired – safety first.

Aside from the R&R initiatives, PLUS will be placing 1,500 customer service assistants at the highway’s 1,100 toll lanes to assist with payment problems. The company is also deploying a “HQ Reserve Team” at strategic locations and use RELA officers to assist in managing traffic. On our part, motorists must remember to use the same payment mode lane as the one you used when coming in – RFID in, RFID out.

Earlier, PLUS announced that it will be setting up contraflow lanes and boosting the number of PLUSRonda patrol teams throughout the peak period. Vehicles that break down or are involved in accidents are a major cause of congestion, and PLUS’ plan is to remove such vehicles as soon as possible – the company will place tow trucks and cranes at critical locations to expedite the process of removing stranded vehicles, especially at climbing areas. Heavy goods-carrying lorries are banned during the festive period.

Before you set off, check out the Raya travel time advisory schedule, which purpose is to distribute traffic and circumvent convergence of traffic entering the highway at the same time.