Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Remember when petrol prices went up early this year, the Federal Government promised to channel the savings from the subsidy reduction into a "fund" for public transport, only to realize that oil prices went up even higher after that, wiping out the earlier "savings" expected? So in the end, the government has to invoke the fad of the day - PFI. A decade or two ago, the fad of the day was privatization.

(By the way, I am anti fuel subsidy. Why should the whole country pay for the wasteful lifestyle of moving around heavy metal cages when other more cost effective methods are denied support? Anyway, Economics 101 tells us that global oil prices are up, and the most efficient response by the government is to let prices at the pump rise too.)

I am not the person to discuss these different methods of public finance. What I am trying to say here is that, where there is a will, there is a way.

I am too lazy to dig up the amount of money spent on roads as compared to rail infrastructure in Malaysia.

But head over to the Malaysian Highway Authority's website and look at the list of highway projects:
  1. Shah Alam Expressway
  2. North-South Expressway Central Link
  3. Sungai Besi Highway
  4. Cheras - Kajang Highway
  5. Damansara - Puchong Highway
  6. Ampang - Kuala Lumpur Elevated Highway
  7. Lebuhraya Penyuraian Trafik KL Barat - (SPRINT)
  8. Lebuhraya Baru Pantai - (NPE)
  9. Lebuhraya Lingkaran Penyuraian Trafik Kajang - (SILK)
  10. Lebuhraya Koridor Guthrie (GCE)
  11. Lebuhraya Khusus KL - KLIA
  12. Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART)
  13. Lebuhraya Duta - Ulu Kelang (DUKE)
That's about 347 km of land cleared as well as concrete and steel laid out to either construct or upgrade the road network. I am sure this list isn't complete. I haven't included other JKR and local authority road upgrades (like the MRR2, Federal Highway, Jalan Duta, Mahameru) and older highways like the NKVE, and the NSE that serves the north and south of the valley).

Contrast that with the rail networks:
  1. Kelana Jaya LRT
  2. Sri Petaling and Ampang LRT
  3. KTM Komuter
  4. KL Monorail

That's 274.6 km of concrete and steel track. (I was contemplating adding the Bandar Sunway Monorail - he he he).

(I am not anti car. In fact, I drive, and I enjoy driving. But there are many many times when I am forced to drive, when wish I didn't have to, In fact, I am just pro-choice. Having more choice in my mobility.)

How much more track will be laid following Najib's August announcement?

If it was so easy to raise finance or find businesses that are willing to take the risk of operating these highways, why not rail infrastructure?

My guess? Highway construction and operation isn't as high tech as that with rail (except the SMART tunnel or KL Monorail maybe, he he), so the local boys realize that it's only possible to do their Ali Baba senang makan ways with highways. With rail, they'd have to invite all the orang putih and Japanese in, and then Ali Baba can't dirty his hands anymore and will have to start eating with chopsticks and fork/knives.

And then compare how much our neighbour, Singapore, is planning ahead and spending on its Circle Line and others.


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