You saw the crap on the front pages today.
The crap is not the increase in the toll but rather the lame excuses given by the government for the increase. Samy Vellu can keep saying that the government is “sharing” the burden with the public. Samy Vellu may think that the public will agree with him on that but he is in fact rubbing salt on the wound by making such statement. When was the last time the government actually came down from the sky to share the burden of the people? Will someone refresh my memory?
RM1.20 increase for LDP (to and fro) – that’s about RM28.80 for 24 working days and RM345.60 for a whole year (assuming another toll increase is not scheduled). For RM345.60, it can easily cover 86 lunch or 5 full tank of petrol or 11 weeks of market expenses and so on – you get the drift.
Why the increase?
Samy Vellu gave one reason – that the increase is due to the concession agreement. Either someone in the government must been an idiot to agree on the one sided agreement or been careless enough to agree on the one sided agreement. Forget what is told in the newspaper that the agreement is made based on a win-win situation. It may have been so at the point of the signing of the agreement but there must be a well drafted clause for periodic review and changes by the parties to the contract based on changing situations and circumstances. Now it seems like the government is unable to pull itself out from the agreement that was made – it is either the government pays or the road user pays but either way, it is still coming from the public. So, for what reason the public made to suffer? Talking of sharing the burden is, as I mentioned, is one huge crap.
Haul up the people who drafted the agreement and pushed it to be signed and make them answerable. We don’t mind if they were hung up along the highway and every road users who pay the extra toll spit and piss on them. The so called toll review mechanism is clearly not working as how it expected to work. It only handles increases in toll. What about decreases in toll due substantial increase in traffic volume? The public still get screwed one way or another.
What about traffic volume?
Samy Vellu justified that the volume is actually lower than the projected volume. That is (once again) another crap! Taking Puchong for example – when the agreement was drafted, there were very little housing areas within Puchong. Now it is a different story. What used to be vacant areas and rubber estates are now high density residential areas. And Samy have the cheek to say that the volume is lower now? When I started using LDP, it only took me about 15 minutes to reach the office. There were fewer cars then. These days, it takes me a minimum one hour to reach the office and that too after coming through a heavy traffic jam. Sometimes the traffic is at a standstill. There is only reason for that – the volume has increased!
Assuming he is right, then what the methodology used to verify the actual volume? What is the basis of the earlier projection? Make the calculations public. Otherwise, don’t try to fool us. Anyone can pick the numbers from the sky and keep saying that it is not enough – just like the 30% equity holding of the Bumiputera (the methodology have not been revealed to this date). So when the government starts talking about statistics and figures, you can be rest assured that it may not be the actual figures all the time.
What about alternative roads?
What alternative road? If you are in Puchong, the only way to going to get to any “alternative” road (if there is one) is by going through the LDP and paying the toll. There is no escape. You go to Putrajaya, you pay toll, you go through Glenmarie, you pay toll, you use the Kesas, you pay toll. So, what the fuck is Samy Vellu trying say that “the highways are an alternative to existing roads”. In which country he is staying? Yes, there used to be one alternative that I can think of – the old Puchong road but once you enter the Old Klang Road where it joins up with NPE, you still pay toll – unless of course, you go all the way to PJ and then cut into the Federal Highway. But by then you would have wasted time and more importantly precious petrol (which the price is high by the way) and made a big circle – so much so for getting “high” productivity.
Any spin off increases?
“The increase in toll rates has nothing to do with the fuel price increase” Ya, right! It may not have anything to do with fuel prices but definitely it has something to do with the increase of the vegetable price, fish price, etc. You ask the guy at the shop and he will say that due to the increase in toll, the price of goods has increased as well. Hello Samy, this is Malaysia that we are talking in case you have forgotten. Remember the price increase in teh tarik and roti canai?
What about highway facilities?
Unless my office is about 300 kilometers from my house, what is the use of having rest and service areas? Having emergency telephones and highway patrol is good but what is the justification to the increase in toll. Shouldn’t it be covered under the current toll price? Don’t even start to talk about alien words like “intelligent transportation system”. There is heavy traffic jam on daily basis and those morons at Litrak can’t even put up simple traffic cones to regulate the traffic jam near the toll plaza, why talk about intelligent transportation system. What so intelligent about it? You are probably talking about couple of CCTVs, perhaps some sensors here and there and centralized monitoring but I have not seen it making any big difference in reducing the traffic jams.
What about public transport?
There were rumors of the LRT being extended into Puchong but that remains to be seen and certainly the question “at what cost” arises. If there is a good public transportation around, going from Puchong to Sunway, I probably the first to grab the opportunity but you see, at the moment there is none. You want to go to Sunway? That’s easy – grab a bus from Puchong, ride all the way to KL (or Brickfields) and there, take another bus back to Sunway. That is grossly inefficient! Then again, having an efficient public transport may backfire to the average Joe Public because it will mean fewer cars which then equals to another revision of the toll price. The vicious circle then starts all over again.
Samy says “with every cent they pay, highway users should weigh facilities and comfort against traffic jams and loss of time”. Samy, we are - which is why we did not complained much when the toll plaza was first erected on LDP but to use a sorry excuse of terms of agreement, the concession is losing money and the government must stop subsidizing to increase the toll is a one big bull shit. We are spending most of the time in traffic jams on the highway than in normal roads. You know that, don’t you?
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