So, it’s been nearly a week now since the Malaysian toll hike…and I am happy to report, the Causeway is VERY clear. I suppose this is the only positive thing that has come out from this whole ridiculous situation. Here are the new toll rates:
And the impact on our pocket?
Private cars - 469% price increase Small lorries – 453% price increase Heavy lorries – 446% price increase Taxis – 486% price increase Buses – 478% price increase
Honestly, Singaporeans are the LEAST affected by the hike, despite the hefty increase. Namely because most Singaporeans stay in Singapore and traveling into Malaysia is optional. 1 less shopping venue for the Singaporeans, but what does it really matter?
As for those who commute (like me), this price hike on the Causeway tolls is tolerable as it is approximately the same toll rate I pay when I travel through the 2nd Link anyway. That said, Singapore has made it known that they will ALSO raise their tolls to match Malaysia’s rate….so, I’m not sure how long my earlier statement can continue to hold true.
It is the Johorians who are truly bearing the brunt of this move by the State - Businesses in Johor will suffer with less Singaporeans, Malaysians who commute to Sg (namely on work permits and mostly blue collar workers) who already don’t earn a lot will end up with higher transport costs, and investments into Iskandar will stall.
Some people have argued that the reason for imposing the toll is fair. That there is nowhere on the EDL highway to install a tollbooth. That by imposing the toll at the customs will mean fewer Malaysians get taxed than if the toll was on the EDL highway itself. Bullshit. It is grossly unfair to make people pay for something they did not and do not use. And, isn’t it the job the of government to build and maintain roads – Isn’t a portion of existing taxes paid to the State used for this purpose?
Btw, for those who are not in the know, the recent hike in toll is just Najib backtracking on his 2012 promise (before the elections) on maintaining free use of the EDL. In 2012, after the Eastern Dispersal Highway was completed to link the Pasir Gudang side of JB to town, the private company who built the highway wanted to collect astronomical tolls to recoup their expenses. Following a huge public uproar, the highway was acquired by the Federal government who promised that no tolls would be collected for the use of the EDL. Well, I guess things always change after an election. :(
I suppose I should be happy that I don’t have to be stuck for hours in the commute anymore…but it is the way this change is implemented that scares me. When a country’s government gives scant regard to it’s own people and instead prefers to choose a quick route to line it’s coffers, it makes me wonder how much thought would they give in ensuring that foreign investors will get a fair deal. Najib better speak up and speak up quick, because I am pretty sure this (and the impending VEP) will have a large impact on how Singaporeans (who comprise of the largest group of investors in Malaysia) view the future of Iskandar.