Motorists guilefully led to use tolled highways

I refer to the article by P. Gunasegaram "Toll concession and traffic lights", (The Edge Malaysia, March 20) and am surprised to learn that the traffic lights at the junction between Jalan Damansara and Jalan Datuk Abu Bakar and also at Jalan 17/1 are controlled by the highway concessionaire SPRINT.

One of the main objections of motorists using the Damansara Link of the SPRINT Highway is that it was an improvement of the existing road and therefore it would not be fair for the residents in nearby housing estates using this stretch of the upgraded highway to pay toll. Though a 2-lane toll-free road has been constructed beside the highway, it has proved to be inadequate for the intended vehicular traffic. And I agree with P. Gunasegaram that the situation is made worse by the traffic lights controlled and manipulated by the concessionaire.

Going by the rules of highway design, major sections of the SPRINT highway should have been designed as a new elevated highway leaving the existing roads for local vehicular traffic. Only those using the new highway will have to pay toll.

However, the nightmarish jams at the two junctions between Jalan Damansara and Jalan Datuk Abu Bakar and also Jalan 17/1 can be reduced considerably if dedicated egresses, free of traffic lights, into Jalan Abu Bakar and Jalan 17/1 were to be incorporated. And this can easily be done, as there is adequate land for these improvements. But why has it not been done till today?

The SPRINT highway is not the only tolled highway causing so much inconvenience to motorists. The tolled Jalan Sg. Besi near the Mines Resort City is another stretch that is the bane of many motorists.

During the past three years I have attended a number of exhibitions held at the Malaysia International Exhibition & Showroom in The Mines Resort City; the latest being the Asia Water 2006 Exhibition on 21 March.

It is easy to get to the venue from Petaling Jaya by using the KL - Seremban highway; the journey usually takes no more than twenty minutes. However, the return journey is a pain in the neck. Once I ended up in Cheras and another time in Subang Jaya. Each time I had to pay additional tolls and it took me nearly an hour to find my way home.

On 21 March I decided to invite my old friend to come along, as he was also interested to see the exhibition and could also act as my navigator.

As usual, it was a breeze going to the venue. But we ended up in Old Klang Road on our return journey. Though we did not have to pay any additional toll, the return journey took us a full hour!

The quickest and shortest way to return to Petaling Jaya is to get into the KL - Seremban Highway from Jalan Sg. Besi near the Exhibition Centre. Though we saw numerous road signages showing direction to Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and many other places, there was none to KL- Seremban Highway which is just a stone throw away!

One cannot point the finger at the highway concessionaires only. After all their bottom line is Ringgit and Sen -- the more traffic they can direct to their tollbooths, the more money they can make.

Tolled highways are under the jurisdiction of the Malaysian Highway Authority, which approves the designs submitted by the concessionaires. If something is amiss, one cannot help wondering if the approving authority is either dumb and/or working hand in glove with the concessionaires.


An edited copy of the above was published in The Edge Malaysia on April 10 2006. 2008