Up to RM200mil to modernise highways

Meeting with Plus CEO Datuk Azman Ismail RAJA FAISAL HISHAN/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: PLUS Malaysia Bhd is looking at spending between RM100mil and RM200mil to modernise the highways in Malaysia.

Managing director Datuk Azman Ismail (pic) told StarBiz that PLUS was looking at completing the modernisation of highways in three to four years, which was a reasonable timeframe.

“The new management is powering change by using technology and digitisation to disrupt the barriers that once stood in the way of doing things better in PLUS. These initiatives will enhance the safety of motorists and employee productivity, which invariably will reduce cost.”

“Some of these innovative features would include road inspections with the use of drones, incident detection and enforcement using smart cameras, implementation of the journey management system, highway lighting powered by solar energy, and overloading detection using sensors,” he said.

Azman was speaking at the Highway Concession Conference 2019, which was jointly organised by the Works Ministry and Malaysian Highway Authority in cooperation with the Association of Highway Concessionaires Malaysia. Works Minister Baru Bian officiated the event.

“Many people get the wrong idea about paying toll. They seem to think that they are paying to get into a congested road,” he said.

Azman said what the people did not realise was that the highways had a huge impact on gross domestic product (GDP).

“From Thailand to Singapore, the highways connect the airports and seaports to the factories, which allow goods to be distributed, impacting positively on the country’s GDP.

“PLUS created new interchanges to connect to the hinterlands. These interchanges generate new economic activities, which have an impact on GDP,” he said.

Meanwhile, PLUS chief operating officer Zakaria Ahmad Zabidi said more than RM100mil was spent on an annual basis for the safety initiatives of the highways for the past three years.

Meanwhile, Baru said based on a survey carried out recently, the majority of the users of the highway had expressed willingness to pay tolls but in return, they expected better value-added services. “One of the major frustrations expressed by them is that they get stuck in traffic as soon as they entered a tolled highway,” Baru added. — By DAVID TAN

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