MIRI: The toll charges along the transboundary “Asean Bridge” that links Sarawak to Brunei at the border crossing 35km north of Miri City must be reduced as it is too expensive, say concerned residents.
A one-way journey for a normal car across the bridge costs RM10.
Travellers who have to commute to and from Sarawak and Brunei daily have to fork out RM20 just to use the bridge and this is in contravention to the assurance given by the Prime Minister that highway in Sarawak will be toll free.
Pauline Peck, a resident of Miri City, told Sarawak Metro that while the people of Miri welcomed the assurance by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that there would be no toll charges for using the Pan Borneo Highway, the people were still unhappy with the exorbitant charges at the Asean Bridge that links Sarawak to Brunei across the Kuala Baram river mouth.
Najib, when launching the upgrading of construction works of the Pan Borneo Highway near Bintulu last Monday, promised that the highway throughout Sarawak would be toll-free.
He was reported to have said that the government would not impose any tolls for the Pan Borneo Highway inside Sarawak as this was the only highway linking the cities and towns of this vast state.
Peck asked why the government did not mention about the toll at the Asean Bridge.
“It is good to hear about the government’s commitment to ensure toll-free status along the Pan Borneo Highway, but what about the toll charges at the Asean Bridge?
“The toll charges now are too expensive. It is just a short distance across the bridge and yet the toll charges there is RM20 from here to Brunei and back for a normal car.
“The charges here are exhorbitant. The toll rates at the new bridge in Penang is only RM3 to and from the mainland.
“The Penang bridge is much longer compared with the Asean Bridge and yet the charges at the Asean Bridge is so much higher,” she said, questioning the logic behind such expensive rates here.
Peck said the federal and state government must reduce the toll at the Asean Bridge to the minimum level so as not to cause any more financial burden to the people, especially those who needed to use the bridge frequently for business or social visits.
The Asean Bridge was built about 10 years ago. Before the bridge was built, commuters intending to cross from Sarawak to Brunei and vice-versa had to use a ferry.
The ferry charged RM6 for a vehicle per crossing.
The Asean Bridge is the only land link between Sarawak and Brunei.
The Pan Borneo Highway runs across the bridge and onwards into Brunei and into Sabah.
The entire stretch of the highway from southern Sarawak to northern Sabah is more than 1,600km long.