Some take new Malaysia road fee in stride

Mr Iskandar Samat, who is self-employed, with his mother Sabariah Tik, a retiree, in Johor Baru for shopping yesterday when the new Malaysia road charge kicked in. He drives to JB at least once a month with his family for leisure.
Mr Iskandar Samat, who is self-employed, with his mother Sabariah Tik, a retiree, in Johor Baru for shopping yesterday when the new Malaysia road charge kicked in. He drives to JB at least once a month with his family for leisure.
Technician Jani Jamari, who goes to JB once a month to eat out, and operations manager Desmond Chin (above), who travels there several times a week for work, were among those who paid the new road charge for Singapore cars.
Technician Jani Jamari, who goes to JB once a month to eat out, and operations manager Desmond Chin (above), who travels there several times a week for work, were among those who paid the new road charge for Singapore cars.
Technician Jani Jamari (top), who goes to JB once a month to eat out, and operations manager Desmond Chin (above), who travels there several times a week for work, were among those who paid the new road charge for Singapore cars.
Technician Jani Jamari (above), who goes to JB once a month to eat out, and operations manager Desmond Chin, who travels there several times a week for work, were among those who paid the new road charge for Singapore cars.PHOTOS: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

A number of motorists The Straits Times spoke to say extra charge still affordable

Until recently, Mr Johnson Tan would drive his Grab car across the Causeway to refuel, up to four times a week.

Doing that saved him up to $80 for a full tank.

Now the 27-year-old, who has been with Grab for about a year, is having second thoughts. It follows the change in road charge imposed by Malaysia.

From yesterday, Singapore-registered cars entering Malaysia will be charged an extra RM20 (S$6.65).

"I will save less now, so unless I happen to be near the checkpoints, I wouldn't intentionally drive in," said Mr Tan, who lives in Sengkang.

The road charge came into effect at the two land checkpoints from 12.01am yesterday.

This followed an announcement by Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai on Facebook last Friday.

FEWER TRIPS TO JB

I will save less now, so unless I happen to be near the checkpoints, I wouldn't intentionally drive in.

MR JOHNSON TAN, who used to drive his Grab car across the Causeway to refuel up to four times a week.

The extra charge was targeted to be rolled out as early as October last year but was repeatedly delayed. From yesterday, a round trip for a Singapore car going into Johor will cost about $19 and this includes existing checkpoint tolls levied by both countries.

The Straits Times spoke to 12 Singaporean drivers in Johor Baru yesterday.

Unlike Mr Tan, 10 of the drivers said they were unfazed about paying more, saying the road charge still falls within their means.

The drivers were also prepared with sufficient value in their Touch 'n Go cards, which they now have to tap twice after getting their passports stamped - once for the road charge and again for the checkpoint toll.

They previously tapped once at the Malaysian checkpoint.

"RM20 is still a comfortable rate for me," said Mr Iskandar Samat, who is self-employed and visits Malaysia at least once a month with his family.

STILL INEXPENSIVE

The roads are a bit quieter as those who are not in a hurry to go to Malaysia may want to monitor how the charge affects us first. But soon, it will be business as usual. It is still not too expensive for us to travel here.

CRANE OPERATOR ISMAIL ATAN

The 42-year-old was in JB with his mother, Madam Sabariah Tik, 64, yesterday for some shopping.

"With the year-end holidays coming up, I think I will be back a few more times this year with my wife and two children (aged 13 and 15 years old)," he said.

Agreeing, Mr Kumar Kaman, 52, who works in the oil and gas industry and owns a house in JB, said: "The charge is fair, so I don't feel the pinch yet.

"But if it goes up in the future, I may be discouraged from driving."

Operations manager Desmond Chin, 33, who travels to JB several times a week for work, said: "I don't have a choice since I have to attend meetings and visit the company's factory in JB.

"But if I were to come here for leisure, I might think twice."

However, technician Jani Jamari, 57, said making the trip to visit his favourite eateries has now become "not worth it".

Further hikes 'may discourage S'poreans from driving' to JB

"I go to JB about once a month on my day off to eat because the halal food is cheap and good.

"But now, I may take a ferry to Batam instead," said Mr Jani, who was busy working out the total cost of a round trip to JB on a piece of paper.

Traffic was smooth entering Malaysia yesterday morning, with some motorists saying they noticed fewer cars on the road.

But several of them said the weekend crowd will return and traffic jams are unlikely to ease in the months ahead.

Crane operator Ismail Atan, 60, said: "The roads are a bit quieter as those who are not in a hurry to go to Malaysia may want to monitor how the charge affects us first.

"But soon, it will be business as usual. It is still not too expensive for us to travel here."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2016, with the headline 'Some take new Malaysia road fee in stride'. Print Edition | Subscribe