Kota Kinabalu, Friday, 20 November 2020
The Labuan bridge, when finally completed, should not have road tolls to be charged to users because road tolls defeat the entire purpose of the bridge that links the island of Labuan and its international airport to the Sabah mainland.
The core objectives of the bridge are to reduce travelling time and to maximise the safety and convenience of travellers. The bridge will also reduce the costs of transporting passengers and goods between Labuan and the Sabah mainland. In other words, the tolls at the Labuan bridge will add costs and add delays to the transport between Labuan and Sabah.
Labuan, which was made a federal territory in 1984, deserves the bridge at no extra costs. This is a long overdue debt of the federal government to the people of Labuan to uplift the quality of lives of the Labuan people.
Now that the federal government has announced open invitations to submit PFIs (Private Finance Initiatives) from the private sector to build the bridge, the proposals could entail the imposition of road tolls that will eventually compromise the core objectives of the bridge. Any PFI proposal should exclude the imposition of road tolls.
Furthermore, the federal government should take advantage of the BIMP-EAGA China cooperation fund which has allocated USD5 billion special loan to the countries of BIMP-EAGA in 2019. Sabah is at the frontier of BIMP-EAGA and is ideally situated to benefit from the BIMP-EAGA China fund, which is managed by the China Development Bank. A mere 20% to 30% of this fund, amounting to USD1 to USD1.5 billion (or RM4 to RM6 billion) would be sufficient to build and complete the bridge.
Datuk Yong Teck Lee
SAPP President, ex-Chief Minister