Sep 8, 11
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng today questioned why major highway concessionaires were still increasing their toll rates when they have already recovered their construction costs and were raking in "exorbitant" profits.
Deputy Works Minister Yong Khoon Seng, in a parliamentary written reply to Lim, revealed that concessionaires managing 27 highways have raked in a total of RM37.7 billion from toll collections, in addition to RM2.1 billion from the government as compensation.
This is despite the total construction costs amounting to RM26.4 billion,giving the concessionaires profits exceeding RM13 billion, Lim, who is also DAP secretary-general, told a press conference at the party headquarters in Kuala Lumpur today.
"This is a cash cow at our expense. We want to know why the toll rates keep on increasing. They are already making money. Project Lebuhraya Utara Selatan (Plus) is the most glaring example and its concession will last until 2039," he said.
According to statistics provided by Lim, the North-South Expressway was built at a cost of RM5.9 billion, but it has since collected more than RM23.5 billion in toll fees, on top of RM735.2 million in compensation from the government.
Another highway that made more than RM1 billion in profit is Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP).
The LDP was built at a cost of RM1.1 billion but has since collected RM2.1 billion in toll charges, on top of RM631 million in compensation from the government.
The amounts of toll charges collected are up to December 2010.
"They've earned enough, so stop increasing the toll. They can even afford to give it back to the people," said Lim.
The concessionaires are being paid large sums of compensation as the government was bound by its agreement with the companies.
"It is in the agreement, that's the problem. If they (the concessionaires) are not allowed to increase the toll rates, then the government must still pay them, eventhough they are already making money," he added.
While these highway operators make the lion's share of the profits, a number of minor highways have yet to recoup their costs.
Among them are the New Pantai Expressway, Shah Alam-Klang Expressway and Kuala Lumpur-Putrajaya Expressway.