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Media statement by Gobind Singh Deo in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 29th August 2010:

Toll free Merdeka Day

I refer to the announcement by the Works Minister that August 31st will see a toll free day for motorists using the LDP expressway between Puchong and Damansara.

This is a reflection that the authorities recognize that the people need to be 'liberated' from the burden of having to pay toll especially in Puchong where motorists pay RM1.60 per entry into and exit out of Puchong.

For a family with two cars which need to travel at least twice into and out of Puchong, one needs to fork out RM12.80 per day just on toll. This averages RM 384.00 per month. Many make an average of 10 trips into and out of Puchong daily.

The report today also said that an average of 450000 vehicles travel the route daily. That makes the daily collection some RM720000 per day. This brings collection to about RM 22.32million per month and about RM267.84 million a year.

These figures are merely a rough estimate of what is being made a year. The figure will increase dramatically over the months and years to come because Puchong is developing fast and naturally the flow of traffic into Puchong will likewise increase.

This doesn't yet include the fact that the toll rate is set to increase over the years. The agreement has it increasing to RM2.10 and RM 3.20 in the years to come.

The Federal Government is not doing enough to solve the problem.

The agreements which cover these routes were drafted many years ago. One may ask if these agreements projected the increased volumes in traffic and toll rates accurately. Is there not a cut off point for profit margins after which the concessions would be returned to the government and the people?

Are the people completely helpless and without recourse because "agreements have been signed and are binding" as is always said in Parliament by the powers that be?

But we, the Rakyat did not sign these agreements. Why must we now be made to suffer these consequences?

And the fact of the matter is that the traffic problem in Puchong especially on the LDP during peak hours is simply terrible. What are motorists actually paying for when travel time is severely delayed because of the jam? Ask anyone in Puchong and the toll and traffic issue finds itself at the top of the list of complaints. So why do we have to wait for years and suffer in silence when huge amounts of money pass collected from the people of Puchong?

As MP for Puchong, I would like to ask the Federal Government whether it is true that profits on this route are expected to fall in the range of some RM13.8 billion ringgit between 2016 to 2029. And what are the profits already made to date and which will be made from now to 2016 based on increased traffic volumes and toll prices?

Given these facts and figures, the Minister of Works should state whether the option of buying the concession back would be better in terms of savings for the rakyat?

Does the agreement not provide for this and does it not also state the pricing mechanism for such an option?

It is my view that any agreement which can be shown to be unfair over a period of time, and one which is found to be oppressive to the rakyat must surely be subject to review especially in cases where the financial targets sought to be achieved have been achieved. We cannot and must not just sit back and allow for the extra's to be reaped in at the expense of the rakyat.

I think the Federal Government, under whose guidance the agreements were drafted and signed must now take full responsibility. It should reevaluate these contracts and act urgently.

Something is just not right here. The increase in traffic volume should work to reduce toll rates and relieve the rakyat of the burden, not the other way around.

With the greatest of respect to the Minister, a one day discount or amnesty may be nice but it is certainly not enough to solve the problem. What we need is a long term solution for the people of Puchong. The Federal Government must act and act fast if it is truly committed to its people first performance now slogan.

* Gobind Singh Deo, MP for Puchong



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