PETALING JAYA: PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has defended the need for toll charges in Malaysia, saying that it was necessary to cover the cost of building expressways and road maintenance.
"If there were no tolls, it will be hard to maintain the North-South Expressway," he said in a Facebook Live talk on the cost of living and policy on Wednesday (Jan 10).
To ease the people's financial burden, Dr Mahathir said the Government was helping the concessionaire that built the North-South Expressway to reduce its costs so that it would not charge high toll rates.
"When the cost is low, the company will not be pressured to raise its (toll) rates.
"If the fare is too high, there is a possibility that road users will not use it (the road) and the company will suffer losses and have a hard time paying its debts," he said.
Dr Mahathir, who is also Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman, added that toll rates in the country were cheaper than many other countries.
He gave the example of Japan, saying that the one-way cost of using a particular bridge in the country was RM270.
"(A) to and fro journey would cost more than RM500 but we know the toll rate of the bridge in Penang is only RM7," he said.
"Compare (the toll cost) to any country in the world, RM7 to and fro from land to Penang island is very cheap," he said.
Dr Mahathir added that since the Penang bridge was built in the 80s, its toll rates have never been increased.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had previously called Dr Mahathir "the father of all tolls", whom he claimed had made lopsided agreements that benefited cronies at the expense of the people.