DETAILS of the new toll rates at the Johor Causeway were published in The Sunday Star on July 27. I am writing this in response to the reports published in The Star, dated July 28.
Almost anyone looking at the new charges will agree that the increase is very drastic, e.g. RM9.70 for inbound cars, up from RM2.90. This is further aggravated by the fact that outbound cars will also have to pay a RM6.80 toll beginning from August 1, which previously was free.
Quoting reports from The Star, the Malaysian Highway Authority (MHA) said that “only those who drive in and out of the CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine facilities) would have to pay”. The MHA also said that “the charges would be used for the maintenance of the Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL) and other CIQ facilities”.
This same report also stated that about 80% of the EDL motorists would not have to pay toll as they could exit at various points along the expressway without having to go through the CIQ at Bangunan Sultan Iskandar. This means that only a small fraction (20%) of the EDL users actually drive through the CIQ.
Let’s view this another way. Most motorists from around Johor Baru enter the CIQ via Jalan Lingkaran Dalam, without needing to use the EDL at all. The same can be said about motorists from Singapore driving into Malaysia.
After immigration clearance, many would drive into Jalan Lingkaran Dalam and a smaller number would enter the EDL. Apparently from the MHA’s clarification, anyone driving through the CIQ will have to pay for the maintenance of the EDL, which is used by only a small fraction of motorists.
How could this decision make sense? Compare this with the current situation where the toll for all cars (Malaysia and Singapore registered cars) coming from Singapore is RM2.90 and this is used to maintain the Johor Causeway.
This makes sense and is fair because you pay only when you use the facility.
At present and until August 1, a daily commuter pays RM2.90 for using the Causeway. From 1 August, he/she would have to pay RM16.50. This constitutes an increase of 470%!
Paying such a large amount on a daily basis is already bad enough. Not every one of us daily commuters are rich simply because we are earning Singapore Dollars.
But how could the new toll rates be regarded as fair and more importantly, correct in principle? The authorities expect the majority of the motorists to pay for the maintenance of an expressway, which they have no need to use at all.
We daily commuters certainly are a “trapped” bunch of people. The Singaporean tourists, weekend travellers and those coming over for business could consolidate and cut down on the number of trips in view of the exorbitant toll.
But the daily commuters, being working people cannot cut down on the numbers days they want to work.
They need to work and have to drive through the CIQ. Once we hand over our passports for immigration clearance, we pay the toll – whether we use the EDL or not. Talk about being a “cash cow”.
C. N. CHONG
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