KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 ― Motorists in the Klang Valley on a budget should put more effort to get organised and use alternative routes if they want to avoid paying tolls, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said today as he defended the government against criticism of the recent rate hike.
The Kota Belud MP said motorists can always find toll-free roads if they wish to keep their expenses low, although that would require them to either brave the traffic congestion or by “waking up earlier” to avoid the traffic.
“Wherever there are tolls, there are alternative routes. So you can avoid tolls just that you would have to brave the traffic. You would have to invest in more time, waking up earlier.
“It's about trading off,” he told reporters after launching a forum on town planning here.
Abdul Rahman said the government had no choice but to allow the concessions to raise the rates as there had been no increase for some time.
The rate hike was necessary as maintenance costs of operating the highways were also shooting up, and the government felt that it was only fair that consumers bear some of the costs to prevent more taxpayers money from being used to subsidise the tolls.
“Given the choice no government would want to increase the toll rates… but we have no choice.
He also maintained that Putrajaya was still subsidising some of the costs despite the increase.
Two weeks ago, toll rates were increased between 10 sen and RM3 at 18 highways within the Klang Valley.
The move drew flak from the public as inflation costs soared with critics pointing out that the average Malaysian’s purchasing power to be further impacted, in addition to the weakening ringgit against a basket of foreign currencies.
Since then, Putrajaya and other public transportation authorities have announced hikes in fees for all intercity rail services, key means of transportation for the city's middle and low income earners.
Abdul Rahman when asked to comment on the matter said he agreed that the government should try to ensure the rail services remain affordable for city folks in the future.
“That I agree. In the future we should try and keep them affordable as this is important to make people switch to public transportation,” he said.
He said making public transportation as the number one traveling mode for city folks was the government's priority in order to cut traffic congestion, which have worsened for the past few years.
But Abdul Rahman admitted that an efficient service was pivotal to drive that change of mindset.