As S'pore-Malaysia land VTL takes off, Johor business operators hopeful for future

Passengers waiting to board the bus to Malaysia at Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange on Nov 29, 2021. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The start of the Singapore-Malaysia land vaccinated travel lane (VTL) on Monday (Nov 29) is bringing joy not only to nationals of both countries but also to Johor business operators, who hope it will rejuvenate their crippled sectors.

One such operator is Mr Shahrilnizam Mohamed, 50, who has sold kueh bahulu for about 15 years at Larkin Sentral Bus Terminal to a clientele consisting mostly of Singaporeans.

"Larkin Sentral is one of the main locations for Singaporeans to do their shopping once they cross the Causeway.

"When the border was closed because of Covid-19 in March last year, my business dropped by 95 per cent as there were no Singaporean shoppers," he said.

Mr Shahrilnizam added that even under the current National Recovery Plan, his business was still not making any profit.

"My customers will usually buy my bahulu in 10 large boxes to give to their neighbours and relatives back in Singapore.

"I hope that the land VTL is a sign of good things to come because I am sure that more people from Singapore will cross to Johor Baru," he added.

Ms Syazryan Zainal, 18, a supervisor at a fruit juice drink company, said its stall had just opened at Larkin Sentral on Friday in anticipation of the VTL.

"We hope to see a large crowd coming from Singapore at Larkin Sentral," she said.

Johor Indian Muslim Entrepreneurs Association secretary Hussein Ibrahim said the association expected money changers to reopen their shops to cater to the Singaporeans.

"There are more than 100 money changers around the city here and they had to close their shops when no one came to change their Singapore dollars to Malaysian ringgit," he said.

Mr Hussein also expressed hope that the land VTL would help revive businesses around the city area and improve the state's economy as a whole.

"We are expecting about 60 per cent of the local businesses here to recover following the reopening of the border with Singapore under the land VTL scheme," he added.

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