Penang Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow should not lie about Pakatan Harapan manifesto about our promise to abolish higway tolls in phases. Naturally the first highway tolls to be abolished are those highways where toll collections have exceeded combined capital investment (construction expenditure, maintenance and operating costs).

 

Nationally, the North-South Highway should be amongst the first highways to have their toll abolished as toll collections has far exceeded combined capital investment. And yet toll collection continues until 2038. As for Penang, the highways tolls to be abolished first are those such as the Sungai Nyior toll and the First Penang Bridge.

 

Teng should stop lying about our Pakatan manifesto on abolishing tolls but explain why has BN not abolished toll collection on the First Penang Bridge? This is a classic case of the “guilty party accusing others of the wrongdoing” or “the thief shouting thief”.

 

It is a great injustice that toll collections on the First Penang Bridge have exceeded more than RM1.7 billion, far exceeding the combined capital investment of RM1.5 billion, and yet the concessionaire can collect up to 2038. In other words the toll operator is blindly making clean profits on the First Penang Bridge until 2038, at the expense of consumers, even though they have got back every single cent of their investment.

 

As for the 2nd Penang Bridge, toll collections are still insufficient to cover the combined capital expenditure. Therefore the 2ndPenang Bridge will not be amongst the first highways to have their tolls abolished when Pakatan takes over. Tolls on the 2ndPenang Bridge will be abolished eventually after the first batch of highways have their tolls abolished. This is consistent with our Pakatan manifesto.

 

Pakatan is responsible in displaying a prudent economic approach and Pakatan makes promises that we can deliver. Pakatan will not make empty populist promises that will make the country go bankrupt because unlike BN, Pakatan refuses to buy the general election.

 

Teng contradicts himself when he asks why I pledged to abolish the toll for the First Penang Bridge but not the second one. After attacking me for not abolishing toll on the 2nd Bridge, he asks who will use the 2nd Penang Bridge after the tolls on the first Penang Bridge is abolished.

 

Teng should realise that the usage of the First or 2nd Penang Bridge is determined both by distance and location of where journey begin and the intended destination. Despite the higher toll in the 2nd Penang Bridge as compared to the 1st Penang Bridge, many still use the 2nd Bridge for those in Seberang Perai Selatan and going to the South-West District area in the island. There will still be people using the 2nd Penang Bridge even if tolls in the first Penang Bridge is abolished.

 

Why is Teng stubbornly supporting the unjust collection of tolls on the First Penang Bridge? Teng is more concerned about protecting BN’s private political interest than public interest by refusing to support the abolition of toll collections on the First Penang Bridge. The people shall decide on 9th May, whether abolition of toll collections in the First Penang Bridge for all vehicles is better or only the abolition of tolls for motocycles.

 

LIM GUAN ENG