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Sunday, January 07, 2007

A day in the life of Darul Toll-ol

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Related post: Enemy at the (Toll) gates

Image hosting by PhotobucketWe've all known it's a crappy deal, despite the smokescreen attempts by the Longest Serving Minister in Showbiz. Known it for years. But now real evidence has been made public (see these three Screenshots posts: here, here and here).

The real deal? The toll concessionnaires either get the charges they want, or get compensated by the Government (read: taxpayers' moolah) - regardless of whether the concessionnaires make money or not. In the case of Litrak, they've been doing pretty damn good. Nevermind that the actual highway cost of construction has been covered, nevermind that the highway was so badly planned that users have to pay to get stuck in the daily jam - a rotten deal is a deal, right?

Already, with the old toll rates, Litrak is making money - to their credit, the company is run well. But with the 60% increase, that means they'll be making 60% more revenue (assuming the same volume of traffic), on top of which they get an additional compensation from the Government. And the compensation not only comes from the Klang Valley taxpayers, but from every tax-paying Malaysian.

The natives don't like it one single bit. And they don't like it one single bit.

Today, another Sunday in Darul Toll-ol, two protests against the toll hike will be held. Yup, not one, but two - you might think that PAS, DAP and PKR would at least have been a little more coordinated.. but hey - they aren't. Live with it.

One protest will be held at 5pm near the Gombak tollgates, organized by PAS, who obviously wanted some of their own glory, and not to be outdone by the DAP-PKR organized protest later today in front of Sunway Pyramid (against Litrak), one hour earlier, at 4pm.

Or maybe they are coordinated - protests in two different locations may be a little bit more difficult to bust up.
(more Toll-ol-ness in the full post)

Image from The Star, hosting by PhotobucketIn any case, take your pick. The protests will probably not achieve the desired moratorium on toll increase. The hikes have already taken effect. And like hot-air balloons, anything price-wise that goes up in Malaysia rarely ever comes down.

Unless someone pokes a big hole in the balloon - and that seems to have been achieved with the release of the Litrak contract details. To summarize, the contract was designed to screw the taxpayers. Yes, we got a highway in return - a tolled highway that also gives us 6 lanes of traffic jam daily, compared to the pre-highway two lanes. What a bargain, huh?

To add insult to already insulting injury, no real alternative is given to motorists, whom, lets say, want to travel from Bandar Sri Damansara to Puchong. Not without spending more time, emit more pollution, and take some other tolled highway (which is probably a viable alternative, at least for 2007 - NKVE will only increase their toll in 2008).

Malaysia? Boleh...