(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The nation-wide protest at the 100 toll plazas on Sunday at 10 a.m. to protest against unfair highway tolls as called by the Coalition Against Toll (CAT) will proceed as scheduled until there is a new announcement.
This is because the Cabinet meeting yesterday have not really resolved the issue of unfair highway tolls in particular and unfair privatisation concessions in general.
The Cabinet has also failed to address the "Five Noes, Two Yes" demands
made by the meeting of MPs and NGOs in Parliament House on Tuesday which
set up the Coalition Against Toll, namely:
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad announced yesterday that the toll rates for the new Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP) would be reduced from RM1.50 to RM1 after the Chinese New Year.
Although the toll burden of LDP motorists have been reduced, their demand has not been met as what they want is a 50-sen toll at each of the four LDP interchanges.
Mahathir said the government would have to pay the LDP concessionaire, Litrak, RM85 million a year as compensation for reducing the toll from RM1.50 to RM1. As the RM85 million will have to come from the taxpayers, this is unacceptable and grossly unfair to the 20 million Malaysians who do not use LDP. Why should the farmer or fisherman in Perlis, Kelantan, Sabah or Sarawak subsidise LDP to the tune of RM85 million a year?
What the government should do is to renegotiate the highway concession with Litrak to avoid a double injustice - directly to the motorists and indirectly to the taxpayers as a whole. In fact, the government should renegotiate all highway concessions to ensure that they are fair to motorists as well as to all Malaysians.
It is to be noted that the Prime Minister had not announced the new toll rates for three other highways - Elite, Kesas (Shah Alam-Klang) and Kulim-Butterworth. What is the reason when toll rates for these three highways which are to begin after the Chinese New Year have already been approved by the Cabinet?
On the North-South Expressway, private car owners will have to pay an additional 0.74 sen per kilometre in toll after the Chinese New Year, i.e. from 10.5 sen to 11.24 sen per kilometre.
PLUS has been feeding misinformation to the Malaysian public to justify its one-sided North-South Expressway concession agreement and unfair toll rate increases.
For instance, PLUS claimed that in 1997, it had collected RM1.014 billion as toll from the North-South Expressway, which is about RM300 million less than what it actually collected for the year.
This is why the Coalition Against Toll is visiting PLUS headquarters tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. to seek a full explanation of the North-South Expressway privatisation, the veracity of the toll collections made public by PLUS through the NEAC yesterday, the unfair concession, the unfair tolls rate and unfair toll increases.
I hope the PLUS Chairman, the Managing Director and other responsible officers would be able to give the Coalition Against Toll a satisfactory explanation during our visit to the PLUS headquarters tomorrow.