Penang Gerakan Youth legal and Public Complaints Bureau chief Jason Loo said increasing the toll rates would add extra financial burden on the people, as transportation fees, prices of daily commodities and other charges are expected to rise accordingly.
While the government should not allow the toll rates to keep on increasing, Loo urged the authorities concerned to review and renegotiate its agreement with the relevant highway concessionaires.
He lamented that that the current economic slowdown coupled with the weakening ringgit had seriously affected the people’s pockets.
“The toll hike of major highways will definitely cause extra financial burden to the people, especially those in the lower-income bracket,” added Loo in a statement.
“This kind of economic chain reaction will invariably cause the market to undergo major price adjustment which will ultimately fall back on the people,” he said.
Loo also recalled that former Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon had strenuously managed to negotiate the toll of the Penang Bridge to maintain at RM7 for the past 30 years.
Loo regretted that the DAP leadership who had pledged to abolish the toll collection of the Sungai Nyior Highway in Butterworth during the 2008 General Elections had failed to keep their promise after taking over the helm of the Penang State Government for more than seven years.
Adding insult to injury, he said the toll rates at Sungai Nyior Highway had also increased together with the toll hike of other major highways. “Is this the political conduct and pledge of the DAP, i.e. “Talk is cheap, Talk the walk”.
Loo reminded the DAP and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng not to give a lame excuse that the highway concessionaires agreement is the jurisdiction of the federal government and not within the bounds of the state government.
“It is the responsibility of Lim and DAP to look after the welfare of the Penang people. Can’t the current strong opposition of the Pakatan in the parliament exert enough pressure on the federal government to change its policies?”