The early bird beats the jam

PETALING JAYA: With Hari Raya fast approaching and the roads expected to be jammed with cars, some city dwellers have already started leaving for their hometowns to avoid the traffic jam.

Whether it’s planning to leave as soon as possible or preparing for the worst traffic by ensuring enough sleep and cravings to stay energized, Malaysians are ready for the country’s biggest festive celebration.

Housewife Puziah Md Rafdzi from Kuala Lumpur has said her family will leave town tonight or tomorrow morning after the dawn meal (sahur) to avoid being caught up in the major exodus.

Puziah, whose hometowns are Lenggong and Taiping, Perak, welcomed the government’s move to get toll operators to waive or reduce fees so the public can save money.

It has been reported that about two million cars are expected to ply the North-South highway daily during the celebration of Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

Site supervisor Mohd Norhisham Mohd Johar, 31, from Klang, Selangor, said he would leave today for his home town on the east coast.

He said townspeople from other states were delighted to celebrate the festival with their relatives in the kampung after a two-year hiatus.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I was unable to return to my home town of Pasir Mas, Kelantan during Hari Raya Aidilfitri,” he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced on Monday that all vehicles will enjoy toll-free rides or discounts of up to 50% on local highways during Hari Raya.

He said the toll-free arrangements involve the North-South Expressway under PLUS Malaysia and the East Coast Expressway (LPT) under Anih Bhd.

Toll-free travel on the North-South Expressway and LPT will also be observed on May 7 and 8.

States like Terengganu and Kelantan have declared May 5 an additional public holiday while Johor has also declared May 2 a public holiday.

Marketing director Nurul Izzati Shairpuddin, 25, said the initiative would really help low and middle income people – B40s and M40s – save money during the festival.

Nurul Izzati, who is returning to Teluk Intan, Perak, early tomorrow morning, plans to get enough sleep before traveling.

However, driver Junaidi Annuar, 62, said he would be willing to take the risk of returning to his hometown of Muar, Johor, on the eve of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, in hopes of smoother traffic .

When asked if he would consider leaving earlier, he replied: “I hope it won’t be so bad. Muar is not so far from the east coast.

Muslims in Malaysia are expected to celebrate Hari Raya, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, on May 3.

Meanwhile, Syed Mohammed Idid, head of corporate communications at PLUS Malaysia (picture above) advised road users to be prepared for an extended journey time and make necessary preparations to ensure a smooth journey.

“Make sure you are well rested and maintain your vehicle to ensure it is in full working order.

“When traveling with young children, prepare treats and drinks. For babies, prepare milk and hot water, and if you are traveling with elderly people, also remember to bring their medicines.

He also advised drivers to use travel apps such as Waze, Google Maps or the PLUS app to make more informed travel decisions.

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