HIGHWAY AND MORE HIGHWAY: DOES IT SOLVE THE PROBLEM

The highway or expressway is ubiquitous in Klang Valley. Some of the generally used expressways in Klang Valley are Duta – Ulu Kelang Expressway (DUKE), Ampang -Kuala Lumpur Elevated Highway(AKLEH), North Pantai Expressway (NPE), Maju Expressway(MEX), Federal Highway, Shah Alam Expressway and a lot more. Some highways had been partially opened, like Setiawangsa – Pantai Expressway (SPE), and some will open soon, like the Sungai Besi – Ulu Kelang Elevated Highway(SUKE) and as the government had recently announced that they had approved the construction of three new expressway. The rationality of building these highways is to mitigate the elephantine traffic conjunction in the Klang Valley, which had been claimed to be grievous since the government had removed all the restrictions for the people under the Movement Control Order(MCO).

Generally, once a highway has been opened to the public, it will be a toll-free period between 2 weeks before the highway concessionaire announces the toll rate for the particular highway. The toll booth will be there for a prolonged period per the agreement between the concessionaire and the government. After the prolonged period has ended, the toll booth will be removed. In our country, some highway toll booths have been eradicated, like the Jalan Kuching toll booth, Batu Tiga, Sungai Rasah, Cheras, etc.

Nevertheless, with the numerous highway built in Klang Valley added with the elevated road, one issue remains: traffic congestion is still not mitigated. They are various factors that can contribute to these scenarios. In the nascent years, using the highway does reduce the traffic congestion on particular roads; however, once many roads start to using it can create a different kind of traffic congestion on our roads. As mentioned before, after the toll-free period ends, the highway makers will publish the highways’ toll rates. The toll rates will not be equal as they will be based on the vehicle body type. For sedans, it will be cheaper, while for the bus and lorry, it will be different; in simple terms, the bigger the vehicle, the higher the toll rates.

The congestion on the highway will start in the toll booth itself as we can see the long queue of vehicles waiting for their turn to pay the tolls. This situation can be aggravated if they are any mishaps, especially in the RFID and Smart Tag booth. Sometimes the RFID reader can’t detect the vehicle hence the toll barricade will not open. These difficulties will create a scenario where the vehicle must move back and forth so the RFID readers can detect the vehicle’s object and activate the barricade. This mishap can cause some annoyance among road users. Even the non-RFID toll booth can have its distinctive for instance, if the car user forgets to reload his Touch n Go or his SmartTag, that can cause some annoyance.

Each highway will have an intersection that leads to particular exits, such as those using the AKLEH, which will exit to MRR2, Jalan Ampang, and Setiawangsa. This scenario can cause a bottleneck issue as the car from the highway will meet the vehicle on the exit roads. The bottleneck can cause severe and unique traffic congestion. For instance, those using the SPE will have an exit to the road that travels to the KL-Karak Expressway, which is already notorious for traffic congestion, especially during peak and holiday periods. The car user from the SPE will create a bottleneck issue that aggravates the traffic congestion, which is the scenario that the road user of AKLEH will face during peak hours every day.

They are also another distinctive issue that is related to the toll rates. Some car lovers have an aversion to using the highway due to toll rates and excessive toll booths. For example, once the SUKE had been opened, they were a road which could travel from Taman Kosas, Ampang, to KLCC. However,  the travel from KLCC to SUKE will need to pay two toll booths, one in Ampang and another in AKLEH. The excessive toll booth and exorbitant toll price for a short distance is another scenario which makes some car lovers detest the tolls on highways. Instead of paying the tolls, they prefer to use the non-toll road, which does not create much difference in the travelling time.

As mentioned previously, using the highway does mitigate traffic congestion; however, sooner or later, the highway will have terrible traffic congestion. These situations happened on the  MRR2 highway, which had severe traffic congestion, NPE roads, presently MEX highways, Federal Highways and more. These highways had functioned well to mitigate the traffic congestion; however, these highways have been notorious for traffic congestion. The highway has been seen as a short-term solution, and it can aggravate the emotion of car lovers as they need to pay exorbitant toll rates and still be caught in the severe traffic congestion.

The highway also had been seen as crony capitalism as it could benefit the toll concessionaire and those associated with the highway construction. Some of the toll booths had remained for a prolonged period, which had caused concern among the public if they had any foul plays or deceptive agreements. The toll issue had been one of the primary issues that had been prevalent in public. The suspicion of the deceitful agreement and some crooked hand working behind the scenes had been prevalent in social media. The situation could have been aggravated if the highway concessionaire had announced an increase in the toll rates. Most of the toll rates on our highways have been increased, which has caused some uproar among the public. The uproar happens as the increase of the toll rates will be an impetus for the rise in the daily commodities price, which again severely affect the user expenditure abilities.

The highways in the Klang Valley have become crucial factors in our daily lives, whether we travel on them or not. The highways can be the subject of aversion, a political ploy by those associated with it, the story of deceptive and crooked behind the scenes, the factor that can be catalysts for the price increase. It had been embedded in the Klang Valley road users, and with the new highways that will be opened, the traffic conjunction might be mitigated for a short period. However, sooner or later, the new highways also will have their specific traffic congestion.

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