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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Penang to launch anti toll-hike campaign -The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — The Penang state government will start a campaign to oppose Putrajaya’s plan to raise the Penang bridge toll rate to RM9.40.
Lim questioned the increase in cost for the construction of the second Penang bridge. — file pic
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state was against the proposal due to a lack of transparency and because it was made without consulting Penang.
“The Penang state government welcomes all political parties and organisations who oppose the Penang bridge toll increase,” said Lim in a statement.
“We are willing to invite the Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties to this anti RM9.40 Penang Bridges Toll Rate Meeting even though they may have supported this in Cabinet,” he added.
Lim also questioned Gerakan’s public opposition to the increase as the BN party was represented in the Cabinet.
“I’m surprised at Gerakan’s opposition to the increase in toll rate to RM9.40 by 2013 for both bridges when the Cabinet, including Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, has already approved the toll increase,” said Lim.
“Does it mean that Barisan Nasional component [parties] do not know what they are doing in Cabinet or the tail does not know what the head is doing?” he added.
The planned increase was disclosed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on June 17.
He had told Parliament that the new rate of RM9.40 per car will come into effect upon the completion of the Second Penang Bridge in 2013.
Currently, motorists are charged RM7.00 for using the bridge linking the Penang island to the mainland.
The 25-year concession for the first bridge will end in 2018 while the RM4.5 billion second bridge project has a concession period of 45 years.
Lim, who is the DAP secretary-general, also questioned the cost escalation of the bridge project.
“Why has the cost of the second bridge risen from RM4.3 billion in 2008 when the price of oil was [at] its peak to RM4.5 billion now when the price of oil has dropped drastically?” asked Lim.
He said Najib had also failed to justify the RM83.51 million spent for overheads.
“Questions have been raised by Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong about the RM20 million expenses for ceremonial duties and RM63.51 million ringgit [for] overhead and support expenses,” he said.
“To date there has been no reply of what these RM83.51 million expenses are all about. Are there any other hidden expenses that the public does not know about?” asked Lim.


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