Link investor

Harapan, what is your position on PJD Link using PFI?

LETTER | As a taxpayer and long-time resident of Petaling Jaya, I am writing this open letter to address specific concerns regarding the value of investing in this PJD Link highway.

We have gathered the information on “Key Features of PFI (Private Finance Initiative) for PJD Link Expressway” here. Also, the culmination where PJD Link will be “fully funded” by the private sector with no government subsidies using this PFI.

For about ten years, the risk of the former expressway project which was called Kidex, now renamed as “PJD Link Expressway”, is synonymous with large-scale construction project management, which was going to cross Petaling Jaya .

We rakyat have been told over and over again that the best choice of mode of transport is public transport, not highways. Costs are much cheaper, more passengers can be carried, costs will not be passed on to the public, and no permanent infrastructure or environmental damage.

The public transport route follows the “same route” as suggested by PJD Link. It is the “shortest route and passes through various dense communities”.

Nothing that a good system of long, double buses, running along the inner lanes of the three-lane highway, can’t do. This should significantly reduce the number of cars during peak hours.

As for the PJD Link highway, it has been widely marketed to help build the stagnant economy, create jobs and improve the state’s transportation features, which the public sector cannot provide. Or does it really do what it claims?

As a project manager in my 23 years of professional experience, I have encountered many delivery hurdles specific to budget, scope, and schedule.

In particular, contracts financed by the private sector, but placed under PFI, which present extremely high risks.

Under PFI, typically, a private company handles the upfront costs instead of the government. The costs of the PJD Link highway project will then be leased to the public and the government authority will make annual payments to the private company.

Often, the synonym PPP (called public-private partnership) is used. However, we public citizens have often noticed that such initiatives often have disastrous consequences.

Non-transparent costing model

Who’s to say that if the project fails (to recoup costs, didn’t deliver needed value to the state, or wasn’t built on time, under cost), that the exorbitant cost will be paid by said private capital? Wouldn’t it be transferred to the public?

Case in point: in Malaysian companies, there have been too many “hidden deals” that have taken place, where bailout after bailout involving substantial costs, all borne by the public, have made headlines. The most recent is Sapura Energy.

For the PJD Link motorway, it follows a similar trajectory of motorway projects.

PJD Link would cost more than RM8-9 billion (year 2020 pricing), up from RM2.6 billion in 2012. Also, this costing model has never been made transparent.

For too long, many projects have been bailed out by the government due to inflated and extreme cost overruns, not to mention failed planning and redesigns.

In conclusion, we rakyat ask the following:

  1. MPs and State Representatives Demand Transparency of Project Cost Structure

  2. PJD Link Sdn Bhd will provide comprehensive studies, related to PFI, risks, outcomes and benefits

  3. PJD Link Sdn Bhd will provide the results of the ongoing Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Social Impact Assessment (SIA) and Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA), if available. are ready

  4. Selangor exco for infrastructure, Izham Hasyim, to provide the upcoming roadmap without the PJD Link highway

  5. Selangor exco for transport, Ng Sze Han, to present an appropriate “transportation plan” for Petaling Jaya

The elections are fast approaching. We rakyat will not be able to finance exorbitant projects that last three generations.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.