Increase in Causeway toll: Johoreans' anger and helplessness

After a major increase in toll rates was imposed on all vehicles passing through the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex, on August 1, Singapore also announced a toll rate hike at the Woodlands checkpoint beginning October 1. Like Malaysia, it is going to start imposing two-way toll charges. The hikes are not unexpected for Johor Bahru people, but it still worsens their plight.

Singapore's Land Transport Authority said that along the process the Singapore government considers the toll rates to be imposed on vehicles at the checkpoint, it usually refers or corresponds to the rates imposed by Malaysia. If the Malaysian government cut or waive the checkpoint tolls, Singapore would take corresponding measures.

The "explanation" seems to have found a reason to justify the toll rate hikes: Don't blame me! If you want to blame, blame the Malaysian government.

However, those who are familiar with the checkpoint charges measures will know that even if Malaysia abolishes the CIQ tolls, despite it now appears as a fantasy and a wishful thinking, Singapore is still gaining as foreign-registered cars entering Singapore will have to pay S$35 (RM90) for a daily permit, after enjoying 10 days of free entry or if they enter the country not on Saturday, Sunday and Singapore's public holidays, or not at particular time period on weekdays and Singapore's school holidays.

I find it difficult to describe the feelings of Johor Bahru people, whether it is anger or helplessness. Perhaps, it should be both! From hawkers, small business owners, those involved in agricultural and transportation industries to the general public, everyone is expressing their dissatisfaction while calculating how they can reduce the burden.

After the costs are increased, public buses, lorries and taxis are going to raise fees. How could we blame? Who can continue a business when it is losing money?

When it was rumoured that the Singapore government would follow suit to increase tolls, there were voices cynically saying that it would be better as the traffic congestion at the Causeway could be reduced and it might even attract talents to stay. It is a typical example showing that some lawmakers just do not understand the people's plight. If there are good jobs with good salaries, who will still want to go so far to learn a living?

My friend's son was graduated from a local university with a bachelor degree in food science. He wished to stay in the country but failed to find a job with satisfying salary. The highest basic salary offered to him was RM1,800 per month but when he tried his luck in Singapore, He was offered S$2,100 per month, about RM5,460! If it were you, would you stay and get RM18,000 a month or enter Singapore everyday to get almost three times the salary?

Instead of making cynical remarks, it is better to find ways to reduce the burden of those who are affected by the toll rate hikes and perhaps, you could talk about the return of talents when you are able to offer competitive salaries!