Guan Eng: Government to continue with highway takeover initiative

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the takeover of the four tolled highways is a pilot project as part of ongoing efforts to lessen the people’s burden. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the takeover of the four tolled highways is a pilot project as part of ongoing efforts to lessen the people’s burden. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

BUTTERWORTH, June 23 — The government will pursue its initiative to acquire other highway concessionaires if the recent bid to take over four tolled highways and toll collection formulas are successful, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said today. 

He said the takeover of the four tolled highways is a pilot project as part of ongoing efforts to lessen the people’s burden by reducing the toll rates at specific hours, with rates reduced by five, 10, 15 and up to 30 per cent during non-peak hours and at the normal rate during peak hours.

“So, this is clearly an improvement from the past.

“The government also does not have to bear the costs because when bonds are issued to finance the purchase, the acquisition will be serviced by the toll collected and, even with reduced toll rates, we can still afford to service the debts,” he told reporters at the Aidilfitri ‘open house’ of the Penang Customs Department. 

Yesterday, in a statement, Lim said the government has formally handed over offer letters to four toll concessionaires with an enterprise value of RM6.2 billion.

The four tolled highway concessions in which Gamuda Bhd has a significant stake are the Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP), Sistem Penyuraian Trafik KL Barat (Sprint), Shah Alam Expressway (Kesas) and the Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART).

Lim, who is the MP for Bagan, said the government has also given its guarantee not to raise toll rates and the implementation of this initiative on other highways will be discussed in stages with the highway concessionaires. 

He also said that the Finance Ministry will install 80 more scanners at all entry points in the country which, he added, will help the Customs Department identify prohibited items such as plastic being smuggled in.

The Customs have been lamenting that enforcement work has been made difficult with the huge volume of cargo containers coming into the country, he said. 

“We have to be alert as this has a huge impact on our health and the environment. When these containers are opened, harmful toxic gases are released, and this is very dangerous,” he said. — Bernama