JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Johor will hold talks with bus companies to provide express services for locals working in Singapore, says Johor Menteri Besar Datuk 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 for tolls," he said.
Apparently, the express bus service would ferry those working in Singapore but living in Johor Baru, to five designated areas in the republic such as Boon Lay and Jurong.
Mr Khaled was commenting on the complaints over the toll at the Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex. The charges kick in on Friday.
Travelling from Johor to Singapore is now free while motorists pay RM2.90 (S$1.14) for the return trip from Singapore. From Friday, motorists will have to pay RM6.80 at the CIQ in Johor and RM9.70 when they return to Johor. Only motorcyclists are exempt from paying the new toll hike.
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).
He allayed public concern that toll would be charged on EDL users. "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 Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced on July 16 the government's decision to implement the VEP fee for all foreign vehicles entering Johor.
Separately, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Chua Tee Yong said the authorities should make public how they arrived at the final figure for the revised toll at 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 possibile to offer rebates for during weekends, off peak hours, or special rates for businesses."
The government issued a statement explaining that the toll collection would go towards the construction cost and maintenance of the EDL and other CIQ-related facilities.
A federal government official said the authorities understood that there was a large number of Malaysians working in Singapore 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.