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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

An eye for an eye in Malaysia-Singapore causeway toll hike tussle

An eye for an eye in M'sia-S'pore causeway toll hike tussle
After Singapore recently announced that effective on August 1, the Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) fee for foreign-registered cars entering Singapore will be raised from S$20 (RM52) to S$35 (RM91) a day, while the Goods Vehicle Permit (GVP) fee for foreign-registered goods vehicles will be raised from S$10 (RM26) to S$40 (RM103) a month, Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin proposed to the federal government that Malaysia should also impose VEP fee for all foreign vehicles entering Johor.
Before the final decision is made on the proposal, our government announced a massive increase for toll rates at the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex in Johor Baru starting August 1, bringing a severe blow to motorists entering and exiting Johor and Singapore every day.
For instance, a Malaysia-registered sedan will have to pay RM6.80 when exiting through the Johor Baru checkpoint, RM91 when entering Singapore at the Woodlands checkpoint; RM3.10 toll when returning and RM9.70 at the Johor Baru checkpoint. It costs RM110.60 for a round trip to Singapore a day, making the monthly transportation fee to surge to RM2,433.20, doubling the current cost.
Even worse, once the toll rates are raised and two-way charges are imposed, as the so-called tolls between Johor Baru and Singapore have always been linking with each other, Singapore is expected to give us an eye for an eye and adjust its toll rates as well. Amidst such a price war between Singapore and Malaysia, our country might be able to earn more income from VEP fees and higher toll rates, but the greatest victims are still Malaysia-registered vehicle owners who have to enter and exit Singapore every day.
The main purpose of Singapore to increase its VEP fees should be to control the traffic on the island to avoid the influx of Malaysia-registered vehicles that could cause congestion problems. The move of our government to impose VEP fee might be able to sooth the people's feelings but based on the consumption capacity of Singaporeans, the impact of VEP fee on them would not be significant.
However, the government lacks in-depth consideration as there are at least two hundred thousands of Malaysians entering and exiting Singapore each day, with most of them working on the island. Increasing toll rates will actually bring heavy financial burden to the people while affecting the overall economic development of Johor Baru.
Mohamed Khaled opined that increasing toll rates could help in controlling traffic jams at checkpoints. Such a view is actually superficial and short-sighted. It is because even if Malaysians do not drive and shift to taking buses or riding motorcycles to enter Singapore, it still would not help in solving the congestion problem. If it is because Singapore has increased the VEP fee and GVP fee and thus, we must increase toll rates as revenge, such a move is too extreme and lacks of careful consideration.
Such an "an eye for an eye" policy would not only increase the operating costs of our business sector, but could also harm the frequent visits between the people of Johor Baru and Singapore, affecting the development of bilateral relations. – mysinchew.com

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