KUALA LUMPUR: In seven months, there will no longer be toll stops in Ipoh for those travelling between Penang and here on the North-South Expressway.
PLUS Expressways officials announced that the infamous Jelapang toll plaza would cease to exist come July.
"Travellers between Kuala Lumpur and Penang will only need to stop at the Jalan Duta and Juru toll plazas," said PLUS Expressways' chief operating officer Nik Arina Nik Jaffar.
"They only need to stop to pay toll when they enter and exit the highway. No stops in Ipoh are required, unless they want to enter the city."
Nik Arina revealed that the Jelapang toll had long been a thorn on PLUS' side.
She said the move to do away with the toll started in 2005. It was therefore not an ad-hoc response to the numerous bus accidents which had occurred there.
"Our concern with the Jelapang toll stretch is not just about safety. That stretch is also notorious for its congestion," she said.
Nik Arina said the public perception that PLUS was not doing its job was unfair as the solution was not as easy as simply removing a toll plaza.
"To remove the Jelapang toll plaza requires an additional 14 km stretch of highway to be built on both sides and new toll plazas for cars entering and exiting Ipoh.
"This requires planning, clearing of new land and a lot of construction work," she said.
But the good news, according to Nik Arina, is that the job is already 60 per cent done.
"In seven months, not only will the North-South Expressway's Ipoh stretch be congestion-free but road safety will improve as well," she said.
The Jelapang toll plaza has seen 142 accidents in 10 years with the latest on Dec 11 when eight people died and 14 were injured when the bus they were travelling in rammed into the back of a tanker.
Nik Arina said the Dec 11 accident was the first time in two years that fatalities were recorded at that particular stretch.
"For years, we have been improving the safety features. Currently, we have a 200-metre emergency crash ramp for out-of-control vehicles."
By : David Yeow and Chong Jia Hui
http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/ ... 36/Article