Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Traffic lights and tolls

Arrived at a cross junction this morning as I cycled to work.

The traffic lights were out and three or four men were working on gas pipes by the side of the road.

I was surprised to see that six men were controlling the rather sparse traffic at the junction.

One stood right in the center of the junction, swinging both his hands like a traffic policeman.

The other five stood at the crossings, heralding the few pedestrians and bicyclists.

This, in a Japan where factories are automated and robotized to the hilt in the name of combating dwindling manpower due to the aging population.

In Vietnam the other day, I saw very few traffic lights at the junctions.

The traffic was, immense.

There were some junctions where instead of lights for the traffic, there were lights for pedestrian crossing the roads.

Quite amazingly, the traffic stopped each time for the pedestrians to cross, thereby simultaneously allowing the traffic running on the perpendicular road, to proceed.

Talking of traffic, the Malaysian government is under heavy criticism for increasing the toll charge by 10% for the North-South Expressway starting from Jan 1st 2005.

The toll operator, supposedly an independent company but largely controlled by government linked interests, points to the agreement that allows it to raise rates by 10 per cent every three years for the next 25 years to 2029.

Wow, a fat cat they got there.

Citizens can’t help but to feel duped by this 'agreement' between the toll operator and the government.

They are organizing a peaceful protest to this daylight robbery.

I am thinking. How many times can the citizens tolerate the increase in toll charges?

Assuming that the raise goes through this time, can it do so again and again and again once every three years, until the year 2029?

I say, fat cat they got there...