AS THE profit margins from toll collected by the three highway operators in Puchong are running into billions, Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo wants the government to reduce the toll rates to ease the problems faced by residents.
Puchong residents are trapped within the confines of the Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP), Kesas and the New Pantai Expressway and have to fork out RM1.60 to exit at any of the tolls.
During a press conference recently, Gobind pointed out that the profits were RM11.31bil for the LDP, RM5.61bil for Kesas and RM3.85bil for the NPE.
“In total, the profits were RM20.77bil. The government must explain these figures and why such huge profits have been agreed at the expense of the rakyat. Any profit should be passed down to the people in the form of reduced tolls,’’ Gobind said.
Gobind said he had written two letters to the Works Ministry asking for copies of the concession agreements but had yet to receive a reply.
He added that during the Parliament session on July 10, the Works Minister, in a written answer, had said that the agreements were classified as official secrets under the Official Secrets Acts 1972 and therefore could not be made public.
“However, a week earlier the deputy minister told parliament that the ministry had made a decision that the agreements could be made public. There is a very serious contradiction here,’’ he said.
Gobind said he was also concerned because the deputy minister had also informed parliament on the cost of building the three highways, a figure that was considerably lower than the figures given by the Works Minister in his written answer.
“The minister should encourage transparency and forward me copies of the toll concession agreements. The rakyat demands to know why they are paying high toll rates when the highway concessionaries are reaping billions in profits,’’ Gobind said.
It is also learnt that the three highway concessionaries have projected a higher profit margin from 2008-2030 based on the new toll rates on the highways soon.
“Instead of looking at ways to reduce the burden of the residents, the government is only causing more hardship. We ask for the agreements to see if there are ways the toll collection could be reduced. This is a genuine call by the residents to help resolve a big problem,’’ Gobind said.
In order to clear the doubts raised by the conflicting information, Gobind said he was prepared to take the matter to court.
“However, we hope it would not come to that stage as the relevant parties could come together for the benefit of the residents,’’ he said.
Hardware dealer Ben Toh from Bandar Puteri said due to his nature of business, he sometimes makes more than 10 trips daily out of Puchong.
“My toll expenses alone are more than RM600. Since most of us are middle-class earners, the government should implement a one-way toll collection or alternatively make toll payments more affordable,’’ said Toh.
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