SIBU: The proposal to either reduce or abolish altogether the collection of toll at the Lanang Bridge is good news to the people in the region.
The move translates to cost savings to the public, expecially those who have to travel daily between this town and Sarikei including Bintangor.
The collection of the toll started in 2006 at 50 sen for motorcycles, RM3 for cars, RM8 for mini-buses and small lorries and RM15 for heavy vehicles.
Leaders from the opposition and the Barisan Nasional, especially SUPP, have been clamouring to the government to scrap the toll collection following complaints from the public.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem finally made the big announcement on Monday when he said the toll fee would either be reduced or the collection abolished altogether.
He said the final decision would be made in June as he was now still in talks with the company managing the bridge, Woodville Sdn Bhd.
Consumer Association of Sibu (CAS) president Simon Tiong was among those who welcomed the announcement made by the chief minister.
Tiong said toll collection should be abolished as it had being burdening the people.
“With the implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST), the abolishment of toll collection would not be a double blow to motorists, especially blue collar workers who have to pay excessively for the toll fee to come here from Sarikei side,” he said.
He said the bridge was built as a service from the government to the people, thus abolishment of toll collection was most appropriate.
“The rational of having the bridge in the first place is for the benefit of the people to cross to the other side of the river and should not be made into a political issue especially one which touches on toll collection,” he said.
Sarawak Bus Transport Company Association chairman Lau Khing Seng strongly believed that toll collection would be abolished.
“When this happens, it will of course benefit bus companies which have to use the bridge daily to go to Bintangor, Sarikei or Kuching,” he said.
Lau said he knew of one bus company plying between Sibu, Bintangor and Sarikei which had to spend between RM20,000 and RM30,000 monthly on toll fees as they have 10 buses.
“Abolishment of toll collection will also result in an economic boom in the region as people would be able to travel with ease. It will also benefit vegetable and fruit farmers,” he said.