Plus highway entitled to up toll rates by 5pct next year

PARLIAMENT North-South Expressway (NSE) and all the highways built and operated by Plus Malaysia Bhd will be entitled to make a five percent toll rate hike in 2016, and the toll rates will be reviewed every three years until the contracts end in 2038.

This is according to Deputy Works Minister Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin in a written statement, following her reply on the NSE in the Dewan Rakyat.

"Based on the suplementary concession contract of Plus, which was signed in November 2011, the government and the concessionaire have agreed that toll rates on all highways under Plus will not be increased from 2011 to 2015," Rosnah said.

"The next hike for all highways under Plus, with the exception of Penang Bridge, will be in 2016. The agreement stipulates a five percent hike every three years from 2016. Penang Bridge's toll rate will remain until 2038," she said.

Other affected highways under Plus Malaysia are the New Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE), Federal Highway Route 2 (FHR2), Seremban Port-Dickson Highway), North-South Expressway Central Link (NSECL), Malaysia-Singapore Second Link (MSSL) and the Butterworth-Kulim Expressway (BKE).

Last week, Works Minister Fadillah Yusof ( photo ) admitted that the government would have to pay RM214 million to Plus as compensation if it denies toll hikes for its highways.

The government has no intention, for now, to extend the concession of North-South Expressway (NSE), which will end by 2038, Rosnah told the Dewan Rakyat during the question-and-answer period.

"At present, the government has no plans to extend the concession period," she said in reply to Ahmad Fauzi Zahari (BN-Setiawangsa), who asked about the highway toll hikes.

Ahmad Fauzi asked the government to reveal the details of the toll rate increases so that the people could be prepared for it.

BN will negotiate

During the 2013 general election, BN had promised a gradual reduction of intra-city tolls, which included NSE and East Coast Highway.

On this, she said BN will negotiate with the concessionaire in the interest of the rakyat.

In the written statement later, Rosanh said the government will scrutinise Plus' application for a toll hike and will take into consideration the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as well as traffic flow before making a decision.

"It means there won't be an automatic hike for Plus," she noted.

A total of 18 highways hiked their toll rates from Oct 15 which shocked many.

Meanwhile, Rosnah also admitted Plus made only RM8.4 million as profit after tax from RM2.61 billion it collected as toll revenue last year.

She acknowledged that the operations and maintenance costs for Plus was expensive, as half of the toll collection were spent on serving the loans, where it had raised RM36.5 billion bond previously.

The concessionaire had begun repayment of interest since 2012, while it needs to pay the principal from 2017 to 2038, said Rosnah, who is also Papar parliamentarian.

According to her, 20 percent of the toll collection goes to operations and maintenance, while 15 to 20 percent was used for ungrading and repair works, while 10 percent goes to its shareholders - Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Khazanah.

The concessionaire had to fork out money from its own pocket to maintain the 20 to 40 percent free stretches of highway roads.

The highway concession, which initially should end in 2018, was extended to 2030 and Dec 31, 2038 respectively through supplementary contracts signed by all parties.

The initial agreement was to allow the highway to increase 26 percent every five years, which was later revised to a 10 percent hike every three years. It was later revised to five percent every three years.

Plus is now charging motorists 13.96 sen for every kilometre they travel.

The RM5.9 billion NSE is borne by the concessionaire and the government only forked out money on land acquisition, according to Rosnah.

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