Lucky us – our dear government has added on to our challenges in life by announcing, in malaysiakini’s words, a whooping increase in toll rates of between 20 to 60% along five major highways in the Klang Valley. The increases have been on top of other demands on our pockets.
The best two statements from outraged consumer groups are:
(1) PC Yeoh, president, United Subang Jaya Residents Association (USJRA)
I have lost faith in the government. The two things I cannot tolerate are that the government signed concessionaire agreements where consumers lose both ways and that the government is not open about the contractual terms.
The highways’ traffic growth has also grown beyond their computations. The highway concessionaires should be able to cover any maintenance costs without increasing the toll rates.
There is no real competition in highway construction too. When the contracts are awarded, there is no check against people whacking up the prices.
If it continues at this rate, the government has signed very stupid agreements. They are not taking in the interests of the consumer.
The government has promoted the use of public transport, but they should make sure everything is in place first, so we can leave our cars behind. It’s a Catch-22 situation for residents here. I use my car because the public transport here is not reliable. We have had to deal with high petrol costs since early this year and now you slap us with this increase in toll rates. We lose either way.
(2) Dr Jacob George, president and legal adviser, Consumer Association of Subang and Shah Alam (Cassa)
The nightmare begins. We will see a snowballing effect on the prices of goods and services where private agencies affected by the toll hike will pass on their costs to consumers.
It confirms the fears of all consumers that the secret contractual agreements between the government and the highway concessionaires have been totally one-sided. The increase has been dictated to consumers without their interests being taken into consideration.
The hike also clearly shows that the government is not practising what it preaches. The government has told enterprises not to increase prices, but they do the same themselves.
It once again raises a lot of questions on the need for transparency in terms of the government’s contractual agreements.
This is becoming a comedy of errors. The government is allowing the fat cats, the highway concessionaires, who until today have not done any service to the nation, to get away with this.
The two statements referred without fail to the cosy contractual arrangements with the concessionaires, shrouded in secrecy as in the case of the disgraceful dodgy deal with the water body Sybas. The government is totally non-transparent and unaccountable.