Toll-free roads not possible without fuel price hike: PM

The issue of toll-free highways has been brought up time and time again but it looks like motorists might not be able to enjoy such pleasures. In a report by Bernama, prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said that it’s not possible to have highways without the collection of toll.

He added that he was personally against the idea of toll-free highways, which was one of the pledges made in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) election manifesto. “We made the manifesto thinking we would not be the government. Now we are the government, and this manifesto is a big burden,” said Mahathir.

“But, at that time, I was against it. I know to have a freeway… you cannot. The only way to have freeways and no toll is to raise the price of petrol,” he added.

The premier also questioned who would maintain the roads or build new ones should the government abolish toll collection. “You tell the private sector to do the roads. They want to make money, but if you don’t have toll, how can you make money?” he said.

Citing the situation in England, Mahathir said the country imposed a heavy tax on petroleum in lieu of toll-free roads, which is hiked whenever the price of petroleum increased.

“So, they use that money. But if you get the money out of the sale of petroleum, people who do not use the highway also have to pay. But here, [highway] users pay. This is our belief. The users pay; those people who are not using [the roads], why should they pay?” he explained, adding that a review of PH’s pledges is needed as some of them would impose great losses if implemented.

It was previously reported that the government would not rush the abolishment of toll collection due to its impact on stakeholders as well as the current financial climate. On the latter, the government recently denied claims that it would cost an estimated RM400 billion to pay off concessionaires in the country.

The price of RON 95 petrol has remained at a constant RM2.20 per litre since May 30, along with Euro 2M diesel at RM2.18 per litre and Euro 5 diesel at RM2.28 per litre. Only the price of RON 97 has fluctuated over the past few months, with the current price set at RM2.79 per litre.

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