3 March, 2010
Analysts sceptical about Taiping-JB Highway project
KUALA LUMPUR: The proposed new highway connecting Taiping and Johor Baru will
bring economic benefits to the country if the project is viable but analysts remain sceptical about its future,
considering previous delays in building the highway.
“If the highway is commercially viable, then it will be the right thing to do.
Such pump priming will benefit the country,” said a research head of a local investment bank.
On Monday, Works Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor said the Government was
studying a proposal to build a new 600km highway linking Taiping and Johor Baru that would traverse the west coast
of the Peninsular.
The idea behind it is that the new highway, if constructed, would help economic
One concern over the proposed Taiping-Johor Baru highway would be its impact on the
government-controlled PLUS Expressways Bhd.
The proposal for the RM5bil highway is currently being studied by the Malaysian
Highway Authority and the Public Private Sector Partnership Unit in the Prime Minister’s Department.
Plans for such a highway are not new as Konsortium LPB Sdn Bhd had proposed to
build the West Coast Expressway (WCE) about 15 years ago. Shareholders of Konsortium LPB were Kumpulan Europlus Bhd
and the state governments of Perak
Analysts said the WCE proposal did not take off due to issues relating to funding
the highway and the concession agreement.
News reports indicated that the pertinent documentation for a concession agreement
from the Government was submitted but it appeared that none was given.
“This is being re-proposed and maybe there are new parties involved?” asked one
Analysts believe that the new proposal may be in the form of a private finance
initiative and judging by the comments of the minister, they speculate that a proposal would have already been
lodged with the Ministry.
“There will be obvious economic benefits from the project given the industries and
population base that are located along the proposed highway,” said an analyst.
One concern over the new highway would be its impact on the government-controlled
PLUS Expressways Bhd as Shaziman had said that the Government did not want PLUS to be negatively affected by the
Analysts say that any new highway that cuts through the economically strong states
along the west coast would affect PLUS but that chances for a new highway appear to be slim.
One such reason is that going by the initial cost estimates of RM5bil to RM6bil
for the Banting to Taiping route, toll charges would be expensive.
They expect the cost of the project to escalate once it connects to Johor
“The toll charges will be based on traffic projection and how much traffic is
there along such a stretch,” said the analyst. “The toll charges might be too high.”