PUTRAJAYA: Tolls for private vehicles plying the highways operated by PLUS Malaysia will be reduced by 18 per cent from Feb 1.
There will also be no toll hikes until 2058, said Malaysia's Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in a statement on Friday (Jan 17).
The highways include the Malaysia-Singapore Second Link, North-South Expressway, New Klang Valley Express, North-South Expressway Central Link, East Coast Highway Phase Two, Port-Dickson-Seremban Highway, Butterworth-Kulim Expressway and Penang Bridge.
Charges for using the North-South Expressway, for example, will be reduced from 13.6 sen/km (S$0.045/km) to 11.15 sen/km. A journey from Jalan Duta in Kuala Lumpur to Alor Setar in Kedah will cost road users RM45.50 compared to the current RM55.50, while a trip from Jalan Duta to Skudai in Johor will cost RM38.50 instead of the current RM47.
The concession period for all PLUS highways has also been extended by 20 years to 2058, to ensure the highway concessionaire can carry out highway maintenance activities without depending on the government.
The decisions were made on Jan 15 during a cabinet meeting, said the PMO.
“No compensation will be made by the government to PLUS for lowering the rate,” it said. “Although the earlier concession agreement provided for a gradual toll hikes, the latest decision will ensure there will be no more increase in toll rates for the next 38 years, until the concession ends in 2058."
The PMO also clarified that the government would no longer bear the burden of paying compensation to PLUS, saying this would save the government RM42 billion.
“The RM42 billion savings can now be used for initiatives that benefit the people,” it said.
LOWER LIVING COSTS
The changes reflect on part of the Pakatan Harapan government's manifesto that promises to review toll concessions and reduce the living costs of Malaysians.
Users of the North-South Expressway that Bernama spoke to responded positively to the announcement, saying it showed the government's commitment to helping people reduce their daily financial burden.
"It is a good baby step for the government if they realise this toll rate reduction since it is in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto," said 28-year-old private marketing executive Brandon Lee.
Data analyst Nurul Nadya Nasaruddin, 31, said the reduction will help her save some money as she uses the highway almost everyday to go to work.
"I spent a total of RM100 per month on toll for my journey back and forth to work. I am grateful for this reduction and thank the government if they decide to implement it," she said.
Media practitioner Nurhafizah Tan, 31, agreed with Nurul Nadya, saying that if the toll charges are reduced, she can spend the extra money on other daily needs.
"Since I moved to Puncak Alam two months ago, I have been spending RM10 a day for the PLUS highway alone. If the toll is reduced, I can use the money for petrol, food and other necessities," she said.