Malaysians will be harder hit by Singapore's toll hike: Johor MP


KUALA LUMPUR:  For Malaysians, travelling to Singapore just became more expensive. In August, the Malaysian government introduced a new toll in addition to increasing existing toll rates at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex, saying it needed the extra revenue to cover maintenance costs at Johor's Eastern Dispersal Link, the CIQ and surrounding roads.

Singapore has also raised the Vehicle Entry Permit Fee for foreign-registered vehicles entering Singapore. And now, toll rates are being raised at the Woodlands Checkpoint to match Malaysia's.

Johor MP for Pulai, Nur Jazlan Mohamed, said: "It's no surprise because Singapore is just responding to what Malaysia did. They had no intention to raise the toll rates before that, and the Malaysian government imposed the toll because they had to."

The MP said his constituents would be unhappy, as Malaysians making the daily commute to Singapore would be the hardest hit. "Malaysians who go to Singapore every day - they'll get hammered twice."

Johor opposition leader Boo Cheng Hau said the higher toll charges have a more adverse impact on Johor's businesses and Johoreans working in Singapore. "For an average car, it would cost RM33 the toll charges on both Iskandar and Woodlands CIQ. Even though it is only S$13, which may not be a burden for Singaporeans, it would certainly be a heavy burden for Johorean commuters," he said.

Transport providers and businesses in Johor are also expecting to face increased operating costs. Anthony Tan, president of the Johor Lorry Operators' Association, said: "Since Malaysia had already raised the toll prices at BSI CIQ, many of the transport operators had already imposed toll surcharge for deliveries to and from Singapore. If Singapore were to match that of BSI CIQ, I will not be surprised that many transport operators will do the same and pass the additional cost to consumers."

Dr Boo said with the toll hike at Woodlands, it "will further hurt businesses in JB, notwithstanding the loss of investors' confidence in Iskandar Malaysia due to a lack of transparency on the toll collections by PLUS over the past 29 years".

Singapore has said it will abolish or reduce toll rates if Malaysia does the same. The Malaysian government has given no indication it is leaning in that direction. But some politicians, including Dr Boo, think tolls on both sides of the Causeway need to be abolished altogether and the focus redirected to cross-border railway links.

He said: "Both governments need to work together for future development, including abolishment of tolls at the CIQs, speeding up MRT/LRT connections between Singapore and Iskandar Malaysia, and environmental protection of Johor Straits including the Forest City project." 

- CNA/al

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