JOHOR BARU: A group of factory bus drivers stopped metres away from the entrance of the Sultan Iskandar Customs and Immigration Checkpoint (CIQ) building here to protest against the toll charges being implemented there, causing traffic to come to a standstill.
The drivers parked their vehicles across the three-lane highway, blocking access to all other heavy vehicles.
The pre-dawn blockade forced scores of commuters, including schoolchildren and factory workers, to trudge across the Causeway into Singapore on foot.
However, by around 8am, the four-hour blockade was lifted and the situation was back to normal.
Johor Baru South Deputy OCPD Supt Mohd Nadzir Gulam Kadir said the first few buses, whose drivers were protesting against the toll collection, stopped about 30m from the CIQ entrance at around 4.15am.
“Not all the bus drivers were involved as there were some who chose to remain inside their vehicles while the group spoke to the authorities. There was no arrest as the group was not violent and only wanted to voice out dissatisfaction over the toll charges,” said Supt Mohd Nadzir.
The group, comprising some 100 drivers, started to disperse at about 7.30am after they were assured that their views would be considered by the authorities, he added.
A Works Ministry statement denied that there was a strike, adding that only two drivers were involved in the commotion after they refused to pay toll.
“The Government views this seriously and action will be taken against irresponsible drivers,” it said, adding that officials from the Malaysian Highway Authority, Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL) and PLUS Bhd would be stationed there to monitor and reduce traffic jams.
The EDL is an 8.6km-long expressway in Johor Baru that connects the North-South Expressway Southern Route in Pandan to the CIQ complex in the city centre. It is regarded as a toll-free expressway to the CIQ complex, allowing users to bypass Jalan Tebrau.
However, a controversy has erupted following the decision to impose toll collection inside the Johor CIQ as some who do not use the EDL but want to travel to Singapore will also have to pay the toll.
Although an average of 220,000 motorists use the EDL daily, only about 40,000 to 50,000 users travel to Singapore and have to pay toll.
Toll collection at CIQ, which began at midnight, proceeded smoothly.
A spokesman from the highway concessionaire said some 1,000 Touch n Go cards with RM10 in preloaded value would be distributed to motorists passing through the CIQ starting yesterday.
“We plan to hand out 200 cards daily during peak hours in the next five days,” she said.