Saturday, December 23, 2006

Online petition to protest against the unfair toll hike

In lieu of the recent toll hike announcement by the Minister of Works, the DAP Petaling Jaya Action Team (PJAT) today officially launch an online petition to register our strongest protest against it.

The petition in English is accessible through http://www.petitiononline.com/notolle/petition.html while the Malay version is accessible through http://www.petitiononline.com/notollm/petition.html.

The UMNO-led Government had announced tolls will be increased in five main highways in Klang Valley with effective from 1st January 2007.

These five highways are Guthrie Corridor Expressway (GCE), Shah Alam Highway (KESAS), Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP), Kuala Lumpur-Karak Highway and Cheras-Kajang Highway.

The recent 20%-60% toll rates hike must be condemned as it is of no difference from “highway robbery in broad daylight that sells out” the rights of motorists, consumers and ordinary Malaysians to big corporations, especially when the construction cost does not appear to justify the toll rates to be paid as follows:-

• RM 1.42 billion Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP) with a concession period of 1996-2030, its toll rate rise from RM1 to RM1.60, an increase of 60 percent.
• RM 1.3 billion Kesas Highway with a concession period of 1993-2024, the toll rate increased from RM1.50 to RM2.20, a 46.7-percent hike.
• RM 336 million Cheras-Kajang Highway's with a concession period of 1995-2026, the toll rate increased by 30 cents - a hike of between 42.9 and 50 percent.
• RM 568 million Kuala Lumpur-Karak Highway with a concession period of 1994-2032, its toll rate increased between 20 and 25 percent; and
• RM 501 million Guthrie Corridor Expressway with a concession period of 2005-2035, its toll rate went up from RM1 to RM1.40 - a 40-percent increase.

The petition is to register our dissatisfactions over the toll hike when it is proven that the service quality provided by the concessionaires is unacceptable and unjustifiable for a toll hike. Everyday, thousands of users of the highways often endure congestion at toll plazas which is a nightmare for motorists. It is outrageous that motorists in Klang Valley have to pay increased toll rates when there are in fact more traffic jams, poorer services and deterioration of roads on the highways.

The petition is also to press for a full and complete review of such unfair privatization concession agreements, or demand that road tax be reduced to reflect the reduced financial commitments by the UMNO-led Government to building roads.

In September 2004, Works Minister, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu said the UMNO-led Government had paid out RM 1.04 billion in compensation to highway concessionaires as part of efforts to offset toll increment over a five-year period from 1999.

Therefore, the petition suggests that instead of compensating these concessionaires untransparently in 5 to 6 years time in 2011 – 2013, it is more economically feasible to buy back the highways at cost, which would not only save the highway operators from going bankrupt, but also ensure a reasonable toll rate for all motorists as well as good service that is accountable to everyone.

In the petition, we would like to remind the UMNO-led Government that they should not abuse the huge mandate given by the people to the UMNO-led Government during the last General Election. When the Prime Minister pledged for a clean, effective and people-oriented government, he must make sure he and his Cabinet really walk the talk.

Therefore in our petition, we also demand that the UMNO-led Government must respect public opinion by agreeing to a deferment of the unfair toll hike to allow for a full public study and understanding of its socio-economic and long-term implications of the toll hike.

For those who share the same aspirations with us, please also send this message to the relevant government authorities and highway concessionaires to protest against the unfair toll hike. Their telephone numbers and email addresses are as followed:

1. Guthrie Corridor Expressway: 603 - 6038 5052, 603 - 6038 5270, support@gce.com.my
2. KESAS Hotline: 603-5633 7188, email: mm@kesas.po.my
3. LDP Hotline: 603-7494 7333, 603-7494 7020, 603-7494 7000, email: info@litrak.com.my
4. MTD Capital: 603-6120 3322, 09-233 0100,
5. Grand Saga Hotline: 603-9075 0505
6. Dato Seri S. Samy Vellu, Ministry of Works, 603-27714004, menteri@kkr.gov.my
7. Dato' Syed Jamal bin Syed Jaafar, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Works, 603-27714020, SyedJamal@kkr.gov.my
8. Malaysia Highway Authority (Lembaga Lebuhraya Malaysia), 603-8737 3000 / 8738 3000, llm@llmnet.gov.my
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