LETTER | Every weekday evening, without fail, there is a long traffic jam starting from the Besraya Sungai Besi toll all the way to the Mines Shopping Mall in Seri Kembangan, Selangor. This bumper to bumper traffic of 2.4km frustrates drivers to no end because motorists are effectively paying to get stuck in traffic jams.
Moreover, the traffic jam has not been reduced even after the implementation of a contra-traffic flow which opens one additional lane after the Besraya toll heading towards Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).
What many motorists are not aware of is the fact that the government, specifically, the Ministry of Works, can take action against the toll concessionaire if these traffic jams persist.
For Besraya, the toll concessionaire must ensure a Level of Service (LOS) “C” at the toll plaza and/or at the immediate interchange. Level of Service “C” means a stable or at near free flow of traffic. During peak hours, the Level of Service after the Besraya Sungai Besi toll is “F” which is bumper to bumper traffic.
According to the concession agreement, if the traffic flow falls below the “C” LOS, the toll concessionaire must appoint a traffic consultant to do a traffic assessment. If the traffic consultant confirms that the LOS has fallen to below a “C” level of service, then the concessionaire must apply for flexible tolling.
This means that during off peak hours, the toll rate must be reduced by at least 10 percent (See Table 1 below). This is to encourage more motorists to use the toll road during off-peak hours rather than during peak hours.
If a reduction in off-peak toll rates fail to bring the LOS to service level “C”, then the concessionaire must upgrade the Toll Plaza or the affected interchange at their own cost.
During this time, the concessionaire must pay the government an amount equivalent to 10 percent of the estimated costs of the upgrading works per month for the inconvenienced caused until the appropriate upgrading work is completed. For example, if the upgrading works cost a total of RM10 million, the concessionaire must pay the government RM1 million a month until the upgrading work is completed.
The failure of the Ministry of Works to take any action against the Besraya toll concessionaire clearly shows that this government has no political will to take on the toll concessionaires. Instead, this BN government has no problems paying millions of ringgit to these toll concessionaires in compensation for not raising toll rates.
The total compensation paid to Besraya from the start of the concession period until 2015 was RM77.6 million. Instead of paying out these millions to Besraya, the government should ask Besraya to solve the traffic jam problem at its Sungai Besi toll and to fine the concessionaire as per the terms and conditions of the concession agreement as long as the traffic problem has not been resolved.
ONG KIAN MING is the Serdang MP and head of the Penang Institute in Kuala Lumpur.
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