The government’s decision to defer toll hike in five highways shows the government’s concern towards the people.

The decision brought about a sigh of relief to one and all Malaysians who were unanimous in their praise for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s immediate reaction, requesting the cabinet to review the toll rate hike announced by Works Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Zin Mohamed on Thursday.marimuthu-fomca

Fomca President Datuk N. Marimuthu (pic) said the decision to defer the toll hike was a wise one because it showed the government’s concern towards the difficult times faced by the people.

“Toll hike must have a valid reason as even pay rise for workers are based on their merit and performance,” he told Bernama here on Friday.

Instead of a toll hike, the government must study the terms of the concession signed between the government and the concessionaires. This should also include water concessions, he said.

Mohd Zin had announced that toll rates on the North-South Expressway (PLUS), Western Kuala Lumpur Traffic Dispersal System Expressway (SPRINT), Ampang-Kuala Lumpur Elevated Highway (AKLEH), Sungai Besi Highway (BESRAYA) and New Pantai Expressway (NPE) would be increased between 0.68 and 50 sen, effective Sunday.

However, the cabinet on Friday decided to indefinitely postpone the toll hike.

The Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) secretary general Datuk Dr Maamor Osman who expressed a similar opinion said the welfare of the people must come first and urged better scrutiny when discussing such concessions in the future.

“Good decisions will always bring about happiness to the people, especially when faced with an economic crisis,” he said.

Dr Maamor also suggested that the government upgrade federal roads and public transport.

Peninsular Malaysia Road Transport Officers Union (KPPJSM) President Hamzah Masri said the decision was timely as it would help the people to weather the economic crisis.

“The government’s decision will be a big relief those from the low income group,” he said.

President of the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry’s Enforcement Officers Association Rus Bakarurraini Shahfei said was a relief to all consumers.

“The Prime Minister had taken into account the sensitivity of the people when asking the cabinet to review the decision. We not only want the decision deferred but want the government to reduce toll rates,” he said.

Meanwhile, President of the Pan Malaysian Lorry Owners Association Er Sui See said the toll hike should not have taken place in the first place as the people have long been asking the government to reduce toll rates.

“The people have been asking the government to reduce the toll rates and instead of postponing the decision, the government should go ahead and reduce toll rates,” he said.