On the cards: Express buses to cross Causeway
JOHOR will hold talks with bus companies to provide express services for Malaysians working in Singapore, said Johor Menteri Besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin.
"With such a service, people will not have to drive across the Causeway to work. That way, they won't have to pay tolls," he said.
The express bus service would ferry those working in Singapore but living in Johor Baru to five designated areas in the country, including Boon Lay and Jurong.
Mr Khaled was commenting on complaints over the toll at the Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex. The charges were supposed to kick in today.
On Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the government is studying the possibility of creating alternative routes for commuters who enter Johor Baru and Singapore daily to avoid burdening local motorists.
Travelling from Johor to Singapore is now free while motorists pay RM2.90 (S$1.15) for the return trip from Singapore. From today, motorists will have to pay RM6.80 at the CIQ in Johor and RM9.70 when they return to Johor. Motorcyclists are exempt from paying tolls.
Mr Khaled said the state government was given an assurance that a portion of the toll collected would be used to maintain the 8.1km Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL). The expressway connects the CIQ to the North-South Expressway.
He allayed public concern that road users will have to pay a toll to travel on EDL.
"It will remain free for motorists using the EDL to get to Pasir Gudang, Stulang and on to Johor Baru city centre."
The Menteri Besar said the new toll rates were not part of the proposed Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) fee.
Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on July 16 the government's decision to implement the VEP fee for all foreign vehicles entering Johor.
Separately, Deputy Finance Minister Chua Tee Yong said the authorities should make public how they arrived at the final figures for the revised tolls at the CIQ complex.
Mr Chua said many people were upset about the new rates.
"Ultimately, the authorities need to strike a balance between increasing revenue and ensuring that the people are not overly burdened," he said.
"For example, it may be possible to offer rebates during weekends, off-peak hours, or special rates for businesses."
A federal government official said the authorities understood that there was a large number of Malaysians working in Singapore and using Singapore-registered vehicles, especially those holding permanent residence status.
"The low-income group, using motorcycles, won't be affected, but we hope Malaysians working in Singapore can understand the need for them to pay to help build quality facilities in Malaysia," said the official.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK