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“Smart toll not decided yet”

(Remember the fiasco with MRR2? Do you trust statements from politicians these days? Picture source: wikipedia)

So, said Samy Vellu in his usual gung-ho way. But reading through the lines, you know these are the facts:-

One: The toll charges is definitely going to be more than RM2.00 (I will not be surprised if it even reach RM3.00 or more). Why? Because Samy already gave some clues in his statement of this (hint: “it is more expensive to build a tunnel than building the road on the surface”). So, why Samy Vellu is getting so tensed up with the opposition coming up with a “lower” toll charges? Or is it he rather comes clean and tells the truth?

Two: If the government said that the toll charges is one of the cheapest in the region or that they had thought about the interest of the people for like 5 zillion times before they even signed on the dotted line , you know that it is just one big rotten apple pie being whacked on your face. The government’s past records on accountability and transparency has not been so encouraging.

With toll concessionaire agreement tucked away in high secrecy, it is indeed hard to believe what the politicians are saying is indeed in the interest of the people. When they say “smart toll not decided yet”, does this means that yes – they have decided how much to screw in the agreement but no – have yet to decide how and when they are going to break the bad news to the people?. Its looks like the case in this situation here.

Anyway, let’s play along with Works Minister’s statement, shall we?

The government spends almost RM1.9 billion for the SMART project which the main purpose was to channel the flood waters from the Klang River away from the city centre, and also to provide an alternative (key word here!) route to the city centre. They claim that it will cut the traveling time from half-an-hour to five minutes for some 200,000 road users on the Sungai Besi highway.

So, praise the Lord!

But the question is on what basis; the toll charges will be calculated? Will it be based on the cost of road building or the cost of doing up the tunnel? Remember that the tunnel was initially build to channel the flood water out from the city but since they may have an unused tunnel for most of the season, having it as an alternative route to the city makes sense. But if they hike up the construction cost to justify the toll charges, it will be one good way to make a quick killing.

Of course with conspiracies and imaginations aside, we still have this thing called “the alternative” right?

It’s fine with us if the “free” road is remains opened as an alternative road to the tolled tunnel road. Driving in traffic jam for another half an hour is nothing great in traffic locked city like KL. If not, try using the LDP after the Sunway toll in peak hours and see whether half an hour is considered short or long. Of course, people can be nasty (and greedy) by doing a “major road improvement work” on the “free” road for months and effectively forcing all motorist to divert to “other road” and pay the toll for the access. Someone can make an easy killing of RM800,000 per day. But I am sure that after the screw-ups on MRR2, Samy will make sure that such nonsense will not happen.

And talking about gung-ho statement, I am very sure that we must have heard the same statement when LDP was opened years back. Back then, we in Puchong STILL had an alternative road to turn to if we wanted to avoid paying up toll. Back then, we still had the Old Klang Road without the toll booth as the other alternative to reach the Federal Highway. It is a different story now but the funny thing is that the traffic jam remains unchanged.

So, I guess we just have to see for how long the alternative road near the tunnel remains an alternative road.

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