Toll operators, return the favour

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Toll operators, return the favour

Postby admin » Sun Feb 08, 2009 4:06 am

I REFER to the report “EPU chief: Why pacts with highway operators are lopsided” (The Star, Jan 31).

According to EPU director-general Tan Sri Sulaiman Mahbob, the Government was forced to become guarantor for highway concessionaires in the 1980s and the 1990s because banks refused to give loans to the companies and the Government had to give a guarantee that there would be a certain number of vehicles using the highways.

We are glad that the Government gave the guarantee because if the Government had not done so, we would not be enjoying the good highways now.

Since the banks have given out loans to the concessionaires, and the highways have been built, the concessionaires have now been able to make huge profits, yet they continue to ask the Government to allow them to increase the toll rates. This we cannot understand.

If the Government guarantees a certain number of vehicles using the highway, what happens if the number of vehicles exceed the number guaranteed by the Government? In other words, the Government guarantees the concessionaires profit and if the concessionaires make excessive profit, then the Government has every right to insist that the concessionaires cannot increase the toll rates.

The concessionaires must realise that they would not have been able to proceed with the project if the Government had not provided the guarantee. So as a true corporate company, the concessionaires must also help the rakyat by not increasing the toll rates although they have the right to do so as stated in the agreement.

For the highways where the concessionaires do not have the volume of vehicles, it is only fair that the Government assist them by either continuing to subsidise them or by taking over the management of the highways.

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