PETALING JAYA: PLUS Expressway Bhd, the operator of the North South Expressway (NSE), has proposed to build a toll road in Senawang, Negri Sembilan, linking the Kajang-Seremban Expressway (Lekas) to the NSE.
PLUS was hoping to reduce the increasingly serious traffic congestion on the NSE, and to increase revenue from toll collection on this link, said sources.
Presently, there are some 11 traffic lights between Lekas and the NSE, although that stretch is less than 10km.
The proposed direct link, which would be shorter in distance by 3km to 5km, will bypass these lights and at the same time divert some of the congestion on the NSE between Kuala Lumpur and Seremban.
“While there may be some loss of revenue from diverting traffic to another highway, PLUS is hoping to counter this by erecting toll gates on the connecting road and collecting toll,” said a source.
IJM Corp Bhd owns 50% of Lekas highway, while Kaseh Lebuhraya Sdn Bhd is the other stakeholder.
Some years back, IJM Corp had put in a similar proposal to the Government, but was rejected. Now it appears that PLUS is looking to champion this cause as the congestion in the Kuala Lumpur-Seremban stretch has become much worse.
StarBiz contacted IJM, which commented that the enhanced connectivity would offer an alternative route for users to bypass congestion at the Seremban-Nilai stretch of the PLUS highway, especially during festive periods or if an accident occurred there.
Presently, the traffic on Lekas during weekends is two to three times higher than weekdays.
Stretching from Kajang Selatan to Paroi, Lekas is 44.3km long and cost RM1.8bil to build. When it was first launched in 2008, management had guided that the payback period was estimated at between eight and 10 years.
For the financial year ended March 31, 2013 (FY13), Lekas recorded a revenue of RM52.7mil. Analysts said that the highway was still in the red, with pre-tax losses widening to RM38mil in FY13 from RM27mil in FY12.
The highway, which was opened in stages from August 2008, offers an alternative route to Seremban, Senawang and Kuala Pilah from eastern Kuala Lumpur and Kajang.
Based on figures provided by IJM, commuters travelling on Lekas have been on the uptrend. In 2009, there were some 8,400 vehicles on a daily basis. This increased to 39,800 in FY12, and 46,000 vehicles in FY13. For the April-to-November period, the figure had increased to some 51,000.
The first section of the Lekas highway, which was the Kajang Selatan-Pajam stretch, was opened in 2008. Subsequently, the Pajam-Mantin stretch opened in December 2008.
IJM also wholly owns the Besraya Highway and North Pantai Expressway. It has five toll concessions in India and one in Argentina.
PLUS was privatised in 2010 and now belongs to Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s unit, UEM Group, and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
Under a special-purpose vehicle, UEM holds a 51% equity interest while the EPF holds the remaining 49% of NSE.