On his return from Amsterdam, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak should direct a deferment of the 480 per cent Johor causeway toll hikes to enable a full and proper process of public consultation in keeping with his commitment under the Government Transformation Programme to uphold the highest standards of transparency and accountability.
The Prime Minister should have received public feedbacks by now not only about the unpopularity but even more important, the great sense of injustice felt by the people in southern Johor over hardships caused by the astronomical causeway toll hikes, especially for the following reasons:
Firstly, substantive breach of the undertaking by the Prime Minister in Parliament on Sept. 24, 2012 that the Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL) will remain toll-free as the causeway toll hikes are imposition of EDL tolls in disguise.
Secondly, although the causeway toll hikes are purportedly to improve the “facilities and services” of EDL, thousands of vehicles and the majority of the 200,000 people crossing the Johor Causeway daily do not take the EDL for them to reach the Johor Bahru Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ), while some 80% of the 220,000 vehicles utilizing the EDL daily do not cross over to Singapore at all.
Thirdly, the unconscionable toll hike up to 480 per cent which is probably the highest toll hike in Malaysian toll history.
Fourthly, implementation of the toll hikes in double quick time – less than a week of its announcement – not giving allowance for public feedback, which again must rank as probably the shortest in Malaysian toll history as well. The toll hikes were announced on July 26 and they were implemented in less than a week on August 1.
Why such drastic and astronomical toll hikes and implemented in such a haste, as if the authorities knew that what they were up to were so wrong and unjustifiable from any public interest standpoint that they wanted to have a “fait accompli” in the shortest possible time!
Najib should direct a full public consultation process before any implementation of the causeway toll hikes, which should also take into account the following matters:
– His parliamentary statement that the government was considering taking over the EDL concessionaire from MRCB and resolve the EDL issue once and for all;
– The quantum of fair and equitable causeway toll hikes; and
– The issues of Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) on Singaporean vehicles and a comprehensive public transport plan in Johor Bahru to resolve the problem of traffic congestion, improve local public transport and enhance the local economy.