Guan Eng dares Nor Mohamed to debate over Penang bridge toll concession

Guan Eng dares Nor Mohamed to debate over Penang bridge toll concession

I wish to challenge Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop to a public debate on whether the extension of the concession period for Penang Bridge by 17 years and BKE by 11 years, in exchange for a freeze on on toll hike for 5 years on 5 highways including the NSE, benefits Penangites and Malaysians.

Tan Sri Nor attacked me in the New Straits Times today for practicing double-standards in opposing the revised deals that will defer toll fare hike for 5 years until 2016. I fail to see how this revision deal benefited the people and how I can be practicing double-standards when I am taking the principled stand in opposing toll operators benefiting hugely at the people’s expense.

TOLL COMPENSATION WAIVER ~ REVISED CONCESSION TERMS

Expressways

Now to 2015

Current toll structure

New toll structure

Current expiry of concession

Now expiry of concession

NSE

No toll hike

10% every three years

5% in 2016 and every three years thereafter

Dec 31, 2038

Dec 31, 2038

Elite

No toll hike

10% every three years

May 31, 2030

Linkedua

No toll hike

25% every five years

Dec 31, 2038

BKE

No toll hike

15% - 25% every five years

June 27, 2026

Penang Bridge

No toll hike

10% every five years

No increase

Dec 31, 2021

This revision deal above is NOT a win-win situation for both the government and the toll operator as well as the rakyat but clearly a win all solution for the toll operators. Penangites are unfairly penalised for the toll fare hike freeze for 5 years for Penang Bridge, NSE, BKE, Linkedua and Elite. Penangites have to pay an extra 17 years for Penang Bridge till 31.12.2038 instead of 31.12.2021 and for BKE an extra 11 years till 31.12.2038 instead of 27.6.2026, just to allow the 5 toll operators to defer the toll hike by 5 years. There is no extension for NSE or Linkedua.

What is most unconscionable and unfair to the rakyat is that the toll operators are reaping obscenely high profits where they have more than recouped their original investments of construction cost. In a written parliamentary reply of revenue obtained by toll operators until 31.12.2010, the toll operator for NSE spent RM 5,945 million to construct the NSE but has received RM 24,266 million in toll receipts and government compensation.

In other words the NSE toll operator has recorded a surplus of RM 18,321 million as at 31.12.2010 over his investment outlay. Is there any need for the NSE toll operator to collect any more tolls from the public much less increase toll fares? By right and in the rakyat’s interest, toll collection in the NSE should be stopped immediately in view that the revenue returns are 3 times more than the original investment.

The situation is similar for Penang Bridge which has collected RM 1,859 million but spent RM 944 million on construction cost, enjoying a surplus of RM 924 million. For BKE, toll collection amounts to RM 340 million on construction cost of RM 256 million, recording a surplus of RM 84 million. Instead of paying until 31 December 2038, Penangites should not be paying any toll at all in the Penang Bridge and the BKE.

And yet Tan Sri Nor claims that this revision deal benefits the rakyat by freezing toll hike, when the toll hike remains but slyly disguised where its impact is not felt now, but the pain lengthened for another 17 years for Penang Bridge and 11 years fro the BKE.

If Tan Sri Nor is so confident that this revision deal benefits the people, then he should not fear to debate with me so that the people can see how this revision deal benefits them instead of the toll operators.

Lim Guan Eng is the Penang Chief Minister and DAP secretary-general

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