KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 10 — Barisan Nasional (BN) claimed today that the public will bear a greater burden if the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is not constructed, after the project came under heavy criticism from PKR MP Rafizi Ramli for alleged inflated cost.
Although the project has been announced to cost RM21 billion so far, BN said Malaysians will suffer from traffic jams both financially and physically should the ambitious public transport project is not undertaken.
“Despite being exposed numerous times, Rafizi continues to attack the cost of the MRT project which he says will be a burden on the rakyat. This exposes the short-term thinking of Rafizi and Pakatan,” BN’s strategic communications team said in a statement, using the Malay word for “the people”.
“What he does not say is that the cost of not doing the MRT project and the various impressive improvements to the public transportation projects in recent years would be much greater.”
Citing the World Bank’s 2015 Malaysia’s Economic Monitor report, the ruling coalition said Malaysians was between 270 and 500 million man-hours in jams while commuting, burning 1.2 billion litres of fuel while idling.
The report also said that the lost hours and fuel was estimated to be at least RM3,100 per person each year, with the total estimated at between 1.1 and 2.2 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.
BN also cited a recent survey by researchers Frost & Sullivan saying 41 per cent of Malaysians put traffic jams as their top frustrations, while car transport cost makes up 10 per cent of all monthly household expenses.
“This does not include the very substantial environmental cost due to petrol-burning cars and health cost to Malaysians arising from increased stress levels while stuck in traffic jams,” BN added.
BN also claimed that Putrajaya will be able to directly recoup the massive investment cost of public transport in long-term through taxes on the improved productivity, increased property values, and increased economic activity in the areas served by the system.
“Efficient public transport projects such as the MRT are investments that last for decades that will put money back into the pockets of Malaysians from time-savings, reduced transport and car ownership costs. Malaysians also benefit from increased well-being and reduced stress,” it said.