JOHOR BARU: The start of the Vaccinated Travel Lane for land crossing (VTL-Land) today is not only bringing joy to nationals of both countries but also to business operators, who hope it will rejuvenate their crippled sectors.
One such operator is Shahrilnizam Mohamed, 50, who has sold kuih bahulu for about 15 years at Larkin Sentral Bus Terminal to a clientele consisting mostly of Singaporeans.
“Larkin Sentral is one of the main locations for Singaporeans to do their shopping once they cross the Causeway.
“When the border was closed because of Covid-19 in March last year, my business dropped by 95% as there were no Singaporean shoppers,” he said.
Shahrilnizam added that even under the current National Recovery Plan, his business was still not making any profit.
“My customers will usually buy my bahulu in 10 large boxes to give to their neighbours and relatives back in Singapore.
“I hope that VTL-Land is a sign of good things to come because I am sure that more people from Singapore will cross to Johor Baru,” he added.
Syazryan Zainal, 18, a supervisor at a fruit juice drink company, said their stall had just opened at Larkin Sentral on Friday in anticipation of VTL-Land.
“We hope to see a large crowd coming from Singapore at Larkin Sentral,” she said.
Johor Indian Muslim Entrepreneurs Association secretary Hussein Ibrahim said they expected money changers to reopen their shops once more to cater to the Singaporeans.
“There are more than 100 money changers around the city here and they had to close their shops when no one came to change their Singapore dollars to Malaysian ringgit,” he said.
Hussein also expressed hope that VTL-Land would help revive businesses around the city area and improve the state’s economy as a whole.
“We are expecting about 60% of the local businesses here to recover following the reopening of the border with Singapore under VTL-Land,” he added.