Gov't Optimistic On Providing Toll-Free Highways

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KUALA LUMPUR -- The government is optimistic on being able to provide toll-free highways in the country, but it will take time, said Deputy Works Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin.

She said the government was currently working on providing toll-free highways such as the Pan Borneo Expressway in Sabah and Sarawak as well as the Central Spine Road (CSR) which goes through Pahang towards Kelantan, to meet the needs without burdening the people.

"The government is also reviewing the structure and toll rates through various initiatives such as the postponement of toll rate increases which has been implemented several times, and subsequently, to abolish several tolls.

"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," she said at the Dewan Rakyat sitting here, today.

Rosnah said this when responding to Teo Nie Ching's (DAP-Kulai) question on the abolition of tolls, which according to the latter, was not impossible for the government to do 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.

Rosnah said the government had also inserted an 'exit clause', whereby if concessionaires had achieved their Internal Rate of Return, the concession agreement could be terminated earlier.

She said as of Dec 31, 2017, there were 31 tolled highways in the country.

According to her, the annual operating and maintenance costs (based on the year 2016) for a highway was between RM6.82 million to RM1.5 billion.

"The cost depends on the length of the highway, geometric design, traffic volume and geographical factors," she said, adding that the total toll collection by concessionaires in 2016 ranged between RM27 million and RM2.867 billion.