Dato Jacob George


To put it rather bluntly – toll roads are not good public policy. It sucks real big time!

They are stupid and Malaysian voters who are consumers have already spoken against such enterprises and abuse with political patronage!

Toll roads are an inefficient, backwards approach to providing public highways. Worse, they foster corruption, political patronage, and discourage needed improvements on the rest of the highway system.

Malaysian consumers and voters must not be fooled by references to “free-market principles,” “proper pricing,” “supply and demand,” and “economic incentives” from those selling the for-profit roadways. The truth is, any resemblance to free-market principles is more illusion than fact.

A real market-based system has willing sellers, willing buyers, and reasonably unfettered competition.

Any highway of consequence falls flat from the get-go, when it comes to market principles.

First, highway corridors are not assembled by willing buyers in competition with other willing buyers. The state identifies the corridor it wants, establishes what it considers to be a politically and judicially acceptable price, and condemns the land of those sellers who disagree. This is market principles at the end of a gun barrel.

Toll road advocates argue that those who use the system the most will pay the most. Fair enough, but who determines what the buyers should pay? It is not competing sellers of similar services. Highway users do not have viable alternatives to buy highway services from other sources. For all practical purposes, there are no other sellers competing for the motorists’ business and realistic alternatives do not exist.

Toll roads are literally a monopoly that is sanctioned and protected by the state.

Yet, the state’s citizens and other highway users have no channel to influence toll road management and pricing decisions. Upgrades and improvements to any highway viewed as competing with the toll road are likely to be postponed or ignored. Unnecessary congestion, under posted speed limits and arbitrary enforcement on alternative roads are silently condoned by transportation officials and elected officials.

Think about it, toll roads cannot compete without the presence of congestion and motorist inconvenience on the public highway system. Are congestion problems going to be corrected if they threaten the income of the toll road? Not in our lifetime, our highways are already proof of this as all it needs is an accident to occur or worst flash floods!

Those benefiting and laughing all the way to the bank are political cronies who by a stroke of a pen become vulgar cigar smoking overnight billionaires out to bleed Malaysian consumers!

And this must stop!