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The Truth Behind the Tolls


Almost all reports state the obvious facts and figures. Comments, for or against, appear to be predetermined – solely depending on the commentator’s preference for free-flowing traffic or lower cost. Or if you are anti-PAP. But where’s the analysis?

Hopefully, this article will inform reader’s views.

Johore’s Unilateral Toll Increase
“In a statement issued on Sunday (27 Jul), the Malaysian Highway Authority said the revised rates would be used for the cost and maintenance of the Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL) and other CIQ Complex-related facilities.”

Notice that the ‘increase’ in toll charges is said to be ‘revised rates’. This was deliberate. MHA seemed to have succeeded to make it appear as if the ‘revision’ is from the original RM2.90 rate – where actually there was zero payable currently for the EDL. This can be seen from the difference between the inbound and outbound rates (RM9.70 & RM6.80 = RM2.90).
In actual fact, MHA is slapping toll charges for the EDL, no more, no less.

To state that the rates will be ‘used for the cost and maintenance of…other CIQ Complex-related facilities’ is to make it appear that the high rates are justified. In the first instance, what has a ‘Highway Authority’, if anything, to do with Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ)? This is disingenuous and devious of the MHA. It is clearly and undoubtedly a greedy grab for money – mostly from Singaporeans’ pockets. How so?

– The EDL is a mere 8.1 km.
– The current toll rate for PLUS (North-South Highway) is RM$0.136 per km.

Therefore, at a flat rate of RM6.80 (outbound rate, excluding the Causeway toll component, MHA is looking to make RM0.84 cts per km of distance travelled.

No, no, that’s incorrect. MHA is looking to make drivers, mostly Singaporean ones, pay TWICE that amount whether or not you use the EDL on your trips in and out of JB!!!

By making the EDL free-of-charge for vehicles other than those originating from or entering the CIQ into SG, (mostly) SG cars are being made to subsidize the (mostly M’sian) ones using the EDL to get round and about JB. In the process, the M’sian EDL operator or govt stands to make a killing – from SGns.

My fellow Singaporeans, if MHA succeeds with this sleight of hand i.e. ditching the longstanding international principle of only users pay and pay only for what they use, we would be the biggest suckers this side of paradise.

Therefore, pray hard that those Barisan Nasional & Opposition politicians succeed in their action against the aforesaid greedy grab for money – mostly at Singaporeans’ expense.

LTA’s ‘We’ll Match JB’s Increase’
No surprise that netizens find themselves with yet another episode to throw stones at the LTA as a proxy of their unhappiness with the govt in general.

I would urge a more detached, level-headed consideration of the situation. (Well, ok, go ahead thumb me down now – even before you read what I have to say.) 

Let us first look at how the Causeway toll originated.

After the Tuas Link opened 1998, Johore announced that they will levy a toll. For good measure – and why not when there’s free money for the taking by administrative fiat – toll was to be payable also for the Causeway. Whilst it is reasonable to recover the Tuas Link construction cost, what is the rationale to collect toll at the Causeway which was built 60 years earlier (1928) with cost fully written off many times over? Well, it was lamely justified to discourage vehicles shunning Tuas in favour of & to maintain the Causeway.

On Singapore’s part, the LTA was, in this case, shrewd to divert attention from themselves to their M’sian counterparts by laying out the ‘we’ll match JB’s quantum of charges’ approach for both road links.

So, what’s there to be level-headed about? Simple, really. Whenever a toll-collector calculates the quantum to collect, one key factor is the affordability. To illustrate, say the threshold for someone using the Causeway is RM$5.00 (one-way, entry and/or exit). If that is what the JB authority thinks, then they will proceed to charge accordingly.

That means, if LTA levies no charge at all, JB stands to reap the FULL ‘affordable’ toll amount. But since LTA ‘will match JB’s quantum’, JB has to restrain itself and cannot happily disregard charges by the LTA.

Therefore, LTA’s approach ensures that about half the what’s-deemed-affordable toll paid by users stay firmly in Singapore – instead of giving carte blanche and every dollar into the M’sian govt’s coffers.

Hence, notwithstanding our unhappiness with the govt’s many other policies, it’s dumb to find fault here and, in the process, give our hard-earned money to another country’s govt or authority. We can already see the extent the M’sians will go rip us off with their latest salvo on the EDL charge.

Bro, if you insist to cut off your nose to spite your face, please count me out this instance.

On the other hand, it is indeed justified to fault the LTA if they proceed to match the toll that is collected by MHA for cars using the EDL. Whether it’s the BKE or KJE or SLE etc, our exorbitant road taxes already paid for all our expressways. And it’s all toll-free, even if most are, well, ‘ERP-plagued’.

Therefore, it would be unconscionable if LTA charges what is the component for the toll payable for use of the EDL. In this case, I would cry bloody murder and off with their ‘head’! You read it right, it’s their ‘head’, not heads.
(Still, we need watch what’s across the Causeway. This is where LKY may be already proven right when he counselled against investing in Johore where “…at the stroke of a pen they can take it over.” Just listen to, of all persons, ex-Malaysian High Commissioner to Singapore Datuk Param¬eswaran urging Malaysia to match Singapore’s new VEP on every SG car entering Malaysia, “I think the notion that Singaporeans will shun Johor if a levy is imposed no longer holds water.
Things have changed in recent years as many Singaporeans have bought property here, and are commuting between both countries daily,” he said.

Don’t say you have not been warned.)



5 thoughts on “The Truth Behind the Tolls

  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 6 Aug 2014 | The Singapore Daily

  2. What i find funny is that i save about 60% on the types of goods i purchase when i go to jb and not to shop in spore. on an average trip i spend about 1000 ringgit….i would have paid in excess of sgd 1000 for the equivalent items in spore. I actually itemsise the purchases meticulously like sugar, flour, rice, etc n price it against the equivalent at the cheapest in spore …, so for me even adding rm1000 to my bill still means substantial savings ….so I gues i would be pound foolish if i stop going to jb.


    • Hi, k raj! That’s a lot of serious money you spend on each trip, my good man!

      At the end of the day, most of us will decide based on each individual’s calculations. The key word here is ‘calcuations’. Regrettably for us, our govt has succeeded rather spectacularly to create the new impressive skyline for Singapore. But, in terms of nationhood, they have failed even more spectacularly given the success with material abundance.

      Singaporeans appears to do more individual calculations rather than aim for common values, shared goals for the common good.

      Whilst it makes sense for individuals to con’t to visit JB (as most would in yr position), if my analysis of the EDL toll scheme ripping Sgns off is correct, then we’d all be the poorer for it, to be exploited by others if we cannot all stand together to make our displeasure known.

      But how can we? The ‘practice & place’ to protest our legit complaints were taken away fr us 50 years ago. Sad.


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