Govt in talks with Gamuda to acquire four highway concessions to abolish tolls

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 23): Putrajaya announced today that it has begun talks with Gamuda Bhd to negotiate the acquisition of four highway concessions that the company has a majority stake in, with the aim of abolishing toll collection at these highways.

This confirmed a news report published today by The Edge Malaysia weekly, quoting sources, that the government is looking to commence negotiations with selected highway operators to take over their concessions.

The four highways involved in Putrajaya's talks with Gamuda are: Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong (LDP), Sistem Penyuraian Trafik KL Barat (SPRINT), Lebuhraya Shah Alam (KESAS) and SMART Tunnel.

This is the "first step" that the Pakatan Harapan government is taking to fulfill its election promise to abolish toll collection by stages to alleviate the high cost of living for commuters, according to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

"Upon successful takeover of the highways, the government intends to abolish the existing toll mechanism. In its place, a 'congestion charge' will be introduced where commuters will only pay a 'congestion charge' equivalent to the existing toll for six hours of 'peak' period a day," the PMO said in a statement.

This means that during the "off-peak" period between 11pm and 5am, commuters will travel on the highway for free. At other "normal" travelling hours, commuters will enjoy discounted rates up to 30% compared to existing toll rates.

"The revenue collected from the ‘congestion charge’ will go towards the operations and maintenance of the highways and repayment of borrowings. Any surplus collected will then be channeled into a public transportation fund to improve the quality of public transport in Malaysia," the PMO said.

The PMO added that more details on the proposed exercise will be announced by the Finance Minister at the appropriate time.