Thursday, February 9, 2012

How Does the Government Make Decisions? The Unjust EDL TOLLS

It is a fact that highways have a major economic impact on the economy.
A strategic highway like the North-South Highway played a major role in improving the transport infrastructure in peninsular Malaysia.
There is an interesting read here on Toll roads arond the world where you will learn that Malaysia is not the first nation to impose tolls but certainly it must be the first nation that keeps on extending the toll life instead of taking back the BOT projects.
So how does the Government arrive at such a decision? More importantly, why do motorists just agree to keep on paying?
The rationale for adding on more life to a tolled highway is quite dubious. Usually there are some road enhancements like an additional lane in some stretches but surely such normal development should be considered part of the operating expenses? After all, increased traffic translates into higher revenues and also longer jams.
If you consider the inhumane traffic jams suffered by motorists during festive seasons like Raya and Chinese New Year, we should review the conditions under which tolls can be collected.
Where is the logic when you pay tolls for a nice highway and then have to wait one hour at each toll booth?
One short term solution is to stop toll collections during the 3 major holiday holidays and use it a a CSR campaign as motorists will really enjoy a nice holiday. I am sure the stress driving during the CNY jams would have shortened the lives of some Malaysians.
The longer term solution of course is to revamp the toll collection system. It is really simple to use the system used in Singapore where the toll is collected without the driver having to slow down. Why do we stick to slow and inefficient systems like Smart-tag and Touch n Go when they cannot cope with festive seasons?
Maybe during festive seasons it may be better to avoid the tolled highways and use the main trunk roads. The traffic may be slower but you won't have to queue for an hour to pay tolls. However you need to be more careful as many drivers will be newbies.
Along the NSH, many smaller towns have become deserted as motorists did not stop for a break as the detour was too long and many of the small towns became ghost towns.
A similar case can happen to Johor Baru with the opening of the EDL.All the shops and petrol stations along the Tebrau Highway will experience at least a 30% reduction in traffic flow(=business) as people head directly in the city centre.
So far no word has been mentioned of the proposed tolls to be collected at the CIQ and why the government decided on this "Everyone pays at CIQ" idea without even telling the good people of Johor Baru how they arrived at this "brilliant" concept of "Pay As You Don't Use".
In many nations, a new highway is not even CONSIDERED before the locals are consulted. But in Bolehland, they award a secret deal, build the highway and then declare "Eveyone Must Pay" and expect people to be like sheep and just bleat.
So where is the study on the economic impact of this highway? Maybe like the LYNAS project, they are still compiling the report.
So if you want to petition against this highway,please go to No Extra Tolls at JB's CIQ. The government needs to know we do not accept this kind of taxation.

photo: CNY traffic snarl on NSH(thanks to Alden Kho)

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