KUALA LUMPUR, April 5 — Motorists could stand to save RM5 billion from the government’s proposal to restructure four toll concessions, said a Gamuda executive who hailed the proposition as a win for both the people and the government.
Its deputy group managing editor Mohammed Rashdan Mohd Yusof said the restructuring exercise appears to be the most viable solution to the government’s effort to reduce travelling costs without having to pay billions of ringgit in compensation to toll operators.
Under the proposed restructuring, all scheduled future toll rate hikes will be cancelled, which Mohammed said allows motorists to save. Putrajaya would have had to pay billions of ringgit in compensation to prevent a raise under the present arrangement.
The toll industry has been in a quagmire for quite some time to find a suitable solution to alleviate the Government of Malaysia from their burden of paying toll subsidy annually,” Mohammed noted.
“And yet, with the GoM being responsible to always ensure sanctity of contracts as well as the government not wanting to burden the motoring rakyat with any toll rate hikes either..thus solving this quagmire has been very difficult indeed. Up until yesterday that is,” he added.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Monday the government will take over the four toll concessions through a newly set up private entity, Amanat Lebuhraya Rakyat, under a restructuring exercise aimed at reducing living costs.
Mohammed said Putrajaya will save RM4.3 billion from the deal.
“This valuable savings can then be further spent on other crucial, more urgent development expenditure and basic infrastructure for the wellbeing of Keluarga Malaysia, as the GoM deems fit — further benefiting the wider rakyat and Keluarga Malaysia, as a whole,” he said.
The four toll operators are Kesas Sdn Bhd which manages Shah Alam Expressway (Kesas), Syarikat Mengurus Air Banjir dan Terowong Sdn Bhd which manages the Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART), Sistem Penyuraian Trafik KL Barat Sdn Bhd which manages Kuala Lumpur Traffic Dispersal Scheme (SPRINT) Expressway and Lingkaran Trans Kota Sdn Bhd which manages Damasara-Puchong (LDP) Expressway.
Critics of the government have pointed out that the takeover bid is similar to the proposal by the Pakatan Harapan government, which had been criticised.
But Mohammed said there were key differences under the ALR proposal. First, the current government’s offer is lower than the RM6.2 billion offered by PH.
The ALR model also limits government exposure, according to the Gamuda executive. He claimed ALR’s proposal has no recourse to the government “at all”.
“This clearly is very different from the 2019 offer, where the GoM undertook to do the acquisition directly, and have the funding on its own balance sheet,” he said.
The proposal will also see reduction of concession periods, the Gamuda executive added. He said ALR is obligated to redeem its funding (Sukuk) as soon as it can, returning ownership of the four highway concessions to the government after.
“In that sense, any extension given to the concessions under ALR is not mutually exclusive from its actual traffic performance,” he said.
“The government should be applauded for this pro-rakyat innovation where the concession can be shortened and most probably will be.
Mohammed claimed based on JACOBS traffic projection of a modest 1.7 per cent traffic CAGR growth, public transfer of the concessions will happen by the end of May 2032.