KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 17 — The toll charges for private vehicle users plying the PLUS Malaysia Berhad (PLUS) operated highways will be reduced by 18 per cent effective Feb 1 and there will be no toll hikes until 2058.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in a statement today, said the important decisions pertaining to PLUS, as well as the Khazanah Nasional Berhad (Khazanah) and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to remain as its shareholders, also the reduction in toll rates, were made at the Cabinet meeting on Jan 15.

In line with this decision, the concession period for all PLUS highways has been extended by 20 years from 2038 to 2058 to ensure that PLUS to be able to carry out their highway maintenance and operation activities without depending on the government.

The highways include the North-South Expressway (NSE), New Klang Valley Express (NKVE), North-South Expressway Central Link (Elite), Malaysian Singapore Second Link (Linkedua), East Coast Highway Phase Two (LPT2), Port-Dickson-Seremban Highway (SPDH), Butterworth-Kulim Expressway (BKE) and Penang Bridge (JPP).

With an 18 per cent reduction, the toll rate on the North-South Expressway, for example, will be reduced from 13.6 sen/km to 11.15 sen/km, and when implemented, the new toll rate will be lower than the toll rate in 1999 at 11.24 sen/km.

With the new toll rates, a journey from Jalan Duta (Kuala Lumpur) to Alor Setar (Kedah) will cost road users RM45.50 compared to the current charge at RM55.50, while from Jalan Duta to Skudai in Johor to cost RM38.50 compared to RM47 today.

“No compensation will be made by the government to PLUS for lowering the rate,” the PMO 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, and this would save the government of RM42 billion.

“The RM42 billion savings can now be used for initiatives that benefit the people,” it said.

The PMO said PLUS to remain the highways' operator and to continue to hold the company's assets and liabilities as well as manage operating and maintenance costs.

On the decision to retain Khazanah and EPF as PLUS shareholders, the PMO said it was based on more than one year of study and comprehensive consideration by various parties including the Works Ministry, Finance Ministry and the Economic Affairs Ministry.

“The Cabinet has reviewed and considered the various proposals that have been put forward, in order to make the best decisions for all parties, especially the people,” it said.

The government was confident that the decision would benefit the people through the reduction of toll rates, while at the same time enabling PLUS to continue operating in a sound financial position, it said. — Bernama