Monday 17 Jun 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (March 21): Highway users, especially those in Klang Valley and Penang, will soon be able to pay tolls using other means of payments besides Touch 'n Go (TNG), starting with five highways, as the government seeks to dismantle TNG’s monopoly in the toll payment system.

In a Facebook post, Minister of Works Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi said the work towards addressing the issue of TNG’s monopoly had started since last year.

He added that since early this year, planning and discussions with the relevant parties as well as the highway concessionaires towards the implementation of an open payment system, had been started. He said several highways will implement the open payment system by September this year.

The highways are the Besraya Highway, the New Pantai Expressway (NPE), the Ampang – Kuala Lumpur Elevated Highway (AKLEH), the Guthrie Corridor Expressway (GCE), and the Penang Bridge.

“Through this open payment system, highway users will be able to use their debit or credit cards to pay tolls. The implementation of the open payment system is an early initiative in moving towards the multi-lane free flow (MLFF) system that is currently being worked on,” said Nanta.

IJM Corporation Bhd owns and operates the Besraya Highway and NPE, while AKLEH and GCE are owned and operated by Prolintas Group, which is 47% owned by Permodalan Nasional Bhd and 53% by Amanah Saham Nasional Bhd.

While the announcement by Nanta is lauded by many, details on the implementation of the open payment system are scarce. There are still questions of whether the highway concessionaires have any kind of exclusivity agreement with Touch 'n Go Sdn Bhd (TNGSB) for toll payments.

In December 2018, PLUS Malaysia Bhd was served with an arbitration notice by CIMB Group Holdings Bhd after the largest highway concessionaire in Malaysia implemented its own radio-frequency identification (RFID) payment system called PLUS RFID.

This was because of the joint venture agreement between PLUS and CIMB in TNGSB. CIMB held a controlling 52.22% stake in TNGSB, while PLUS had a 20% stake and MTD Equity Sdn Bhd held 27.78%.

However, in October 2019, CIMB had taken over the rest of the shares in TNGSB from PLUS and MTD Equity. It is not clear whether due to this takeover by CIMB, PLUS is no longer obligated to only allow TNG and Touch 'n Go eWallet for toll payments.

The Penang bridge is owned and operated by PLUS.

Meanwhile, Nanta also said in the statement that the proof of concept (POC) of the MLFF system will take place before the end of October 2023, to appraise the system before it is being rolled out to all highways in Malaysia.

“We are negotiating (with highway concessionaires) for the location of the POC, and it will be finalised soon. The full implementation of the MLFF [system] will be done in phases, the latest by the third quarter of 2024,” said Nanta.

The MLFF system will also be on an open payment system basis, to make toll collections easier and provide opportunities for more e-wallet platforms to participate, and thus dismantling the monopoly by TNG, said Nanta.

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