March 25th, 2012 admin
The Tebrau Highway is one of the main arteries of Johor Bahru. Besides serving as a link to the famous “Tamans” in Johor Bahru (Taman Sentosa, Taman Pelangi, Taman Sri Tebrau, Taman Melodies), many landmarks and shopping centers are peppered along it’s route. The Tebrau Highway leads from the Johor Bahru CIQ and Johor Bahru City Square towards Plaza Pelangi, and continues northwards towards Taman Molek, Aeon Tebrau City and most importantly, towards the North-South Highway and the Pasir Gudang Highway, where motorists will finally be able to step on the gas and go on a cruise mode towards further flung destinations (Malacca, Kuala Lumpar and Penang).
Over the years, the development of the Tebrau Highway has not kept up with the development projects in Johor Bahru, leading to frequent traffic jams and occasional accidents. Potholes are also common due to intense usage. Even the advertisement boards are starting to get a little too close to each other.
The introduction of a proposed Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL) in Johor Bahru was thus a welcomed by most Johoreans in year 2009. Besides relieving the traffic conditions at Tebrau Highway, it allows for a faster commute for motorists with no intention of entering Johor Bahru city. From a macro economic view, the EDL project also promotes tourism as well as economic development in Johor.
The positive fanfare had continued until a few weeks back, when rumours first surfaced that:
1. The toll gates for the Johor Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL) will be located right within Johor Bahru CIQ.
2. The toll charges will cost RM15.30 for a motorcar.
With the long standing policy by Singapore to match up the toll charges with Johor Bahru, this effectively meant that a return trip from Singapore to Johor Bahru will cost RM30.60, even if you do not want to use the Eastern Dispersal Link!!
Little wonder that the internet has been abuzz with complains over such rumoured measures, keeping both Singaporeans and Johoreans worried about the implications. This is not helped by the fact that the construction of the Johor Bahru EDL is largely completed and now good for operations – once the toll charge principles are sorted out.
On 9th Mar 2012, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak responded an announcement on the toll charges will be made soon, with the assurance that “Those who do not use the EDL should not be required to pay toll”.
With the contract already signed with MRCB Lingkaran Selatan Sdn Bhd (MLSSB) who now has 34 years of concession and operating right, it remains to be seen how much wriggle room the Malaysian Government has to address the concerns over the toll charges on the Johor Bahru EDL. Built at a cost of RM977mil, assuming that 10,000 motorists will use the EDL daily:
Breakeven Toll Charges (assuming that the toll gates are not stationed within the Johor Bahru CIQ):
RM977mil/34 years/365 days/ 10,000 motorists = RM7.87. At 8.1km long, this equates to about RM1/km travelled on the EDL, the most expensive (per KM) toll charge ever in Malaysia!!
With the general elections looming, ignoring the voice of the public could be suicidal for Prime Minister Najib Razak and Barisan Nasional.
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