Toll calculator

Toll calculator

Organisation: Malaysiakini (Malaysia)

Publication Date: 02/07/2017


Size of team/newsroom:large


The Malaysian Highway projects are the outcome of the privatization agenda. Under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) concept, the government awards concession contracts to highway companies, which in turn, build and operate the highways. When the contract period ends, they will transfer the management of the highway back to the government. However, such projects come with controversies as the government still needs to bear the risks and losses of these companies, despite handing over these projects to the private sector and government-linked companies (GLCs). Should the government disallow the concessionaires to raise the toll rates, it must compensate the companies, as stated in the concession contract. The lack of transparency in awarding the contracts has brought about allegations of cronyism. In 2015, toll hikes were enforced in 18 highways after the government chose not to further compensate the concessionaires. As such, the toll calculator in this project targets all the highway user in Malaysia. It estimates the toll cost that will be paid by someone who uses tolled highway to travel daily for work until the highway concession period ends. Besides, there are also several charts and information graphics, providing information such as which highways that have the longest concession period, which tolls have the highest hike all time, and which highway concessionaires receive the most compensation from the government. This project is to assist the readers and road users to estimate how much money they are going to spend on the road and other relevant facts about the Malaysian highways. Through the interactive calculator and information graphics presentation, I believe that it would provide a better experience for the readers to understand the issue rather than a text-based report. Please use the username ‘longhui’ and password ‘testing1’ to access the news report.

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

With the help of my colleagues, I programmed the calculator by myself with certain programming languages. In the context of Malaysia, this would be the first news web application that programmed by a journalist from a local media organisation. This is based on all the necessary data gathered, including the construction costs, concession period, compensation given by the government of all the highways in Malaysia. This is an interactive toll calculator, it allows the users to select two highways that they commonly use for work and the amount of toll they pay daily, the calculator will calculate for them how much they are going to pay right until the concession period of the highways end. After the calculation, it allows the user to share the result on social media as a way to attract more people to use the application. Based on the data collected, on the day it went online, there were more than 8,000 people had accessed to the calculator and the special report itself. The report was a success and this shows that the combination of data and journalism can provide a different perspective our readers on how complex government policies can affect their daily lives.

Technologies used for this project:

I used JavaScript, HTML and CSS to code the calculator. As for the chart of "Top 10 tolls that have the most hike all time", I compiled the numbers from open data before creating an interactive table with Infogram's data visualization tools. As for the rest of the information graphics, they were designed with Adobe Photoshop.
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