Monday, January 03, 2005
To Toll or Not to Toll.. A Samy Vellu Dilemma
The Coalition Against Unfair Toll Increases (CAUTI), made up of concerned Members of Parliament, political parties, trade unions, consumer organizations and other NGOs - need your support in opposing the 10% increase in toll rates on the North-South Expressway (NSE). Last week, Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu announced that the toll hike will take place on 1 January 2005. He said that the government will have to pay the concessionaire, PLUS the following amounts if the 10% toll hike was not implemented: - RM154 million a year in compensation OR - RM38 billion over the next 33 years. CAUTI is mystified and outraged by Samy Vellu's claim. Why? 1. The grand total for 33 years of compensation at RM154 million a year is RM5 billion, NOT RM38 billion. Why the discrepancy? 2. The 30-year NSE concession - which Samy Vellu negotiated and signed - started in May 1988, with a 12-year extension in 1999. This means that the NSE concession should end in 2030. Another 25 years to go! Why must compensation be paid to PLUS for the next 33 years, until 2038? 3. With another 25 years to go, at the compensation rate of RM154 million a year, the total compensation the government is liable to pay is RM3.85 billion -> one-tenth of Samy Vellu's hyperbolic claim of RM38 billion! 4. In Parliament, Samy Vellu also said that the NSE was built for 160,000 cars a day but is now being used by 1,200,000 vehicles. This means a traffic volume which is 7.5 times higher than the forecasted volume, which also means toll revenue of approximately 7.5 times higher than the forecasted revenue. This is a windfall for the NSE concessionaire! It is outrageous that motorists in this country have to pay increased toll rates when there are in fact more traffic jams, poorer services and deteriorating quality of road conditions on the expressways. The new Prime Minister's general election pledge is to lead a fair, just, open and accountable administration. He says he wants to listen to the views of the people. Let's pressure the government to respect public opinion by at least ordering a deferment of the unfair toll hike to allow for comprehensive public study on all its socio-economic implications. CAUTI believes there must be a way to mitigate the oppressive terms of the NSE concession, in order to protect the rights and interests of two generations of Malaysians.