MP SPEAKS | Penang BN chairperson Teng Chang Yeow should not lie about Pakatan Harapan's promise to abolish highway tolls in phases.
Naturally, the first highway tolls to be abolished will be those where toll collections have exceeded their combined capital investment (construction expenditure, maintenance and operating costs).
Nationally, the North-South Highway should be amongst the first highways to have its tolls abolished, as toll collections have far exceeded combined capital investment. And yet toll collection continues until 2038.
As for Penang, the highways tolls that will be abolished first are those such as the Sungai Nyior toll and the First Penang Bridge.
Teng should stop lying about our Harapan manifesto on abolishing tolls, but instead explain why BN has not abolished toll collection on the Penang Bridge. This is a classic case of the guilty party accusing others of wrongdoing, or the “thief shouting thief.”
It is a great injustice that toll collections on the Penang Bridge have exceeded more than RM1.7 billion, far exceeding the combined capital investment of RM1.5 billion, and yet the concessionaire can collect toll up to 2038.
In other words, the toll operator is blindly making clean profit on the bridge until 2038, at the expense of consumers, even though they have gotten back every single cent of their investment.
As for the Second Penang Bridge, toll collections are still insufficient to cover its combined capital expenditure. Therefore the Second Penang Bridge will not be among the first highways to its tolls abolished when Harapan takes over.
Tolls on the Second Penang Bridge will be abolished eventually, after the first batch of highways. This is consistent with our Harapan manifesto.
Harapan is responsible in displaying a prudent economic approach, and we make promises that we can deliver. Harapan will not make empty populist promises that will make the country go bankrupt because, unlike BN, we refuse to buy the general election.
Teng contradicts himself when he asks why I pledged to abolish the toll for the First Penang Bridge but not the second . After attacking me for not abolishing toll on the Second Bridge, he asks who will use the Second Penang Bridge after the tolls on the Penang Bridge are abolished.
Teng should realise that the usage of the First and Second Penang Bridges is determined both by distance and location of where a journey begins, and the intended destination.
Despite the higher toll for the Second Penang Bridge as compared to the first, those in Seberang Perai Selatan and those going to the south-west district in the island use it. There will still be people using the Second Penang Bridge, even if tolls for the first are abolished.
Why is Teng stubbornly supporting the unjust collection of tolls on the Penang Bridge? He seems to be more concerned about protecting BN’s private political interests than public interest by refusing to support the abolishment of toll collections.
The people shall decide on May 9 whether abolition of toll collections for the Penang Bridge for all vehicles is better, or only the abolishment of tolls for motorcycles.
LIM GUAN ENG is the incumbent MP of Air Putih, caretaker Penang chief minister and DAP secretary-general.
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