Shortage of Touch 'n Go cards irks travellers driving into Johor

Many asking for a universal mode of payment at the two border crossings with Singapore

JOHOR BARU • Crossing the border into Malaysia is getting to be a touch-and-go affair for Singaporeans - they do not know how much extra they will have to pay.

Since the borders reopened, Touch 'n Go stored-value cards have become hard to find and touts now station themselves by the cashless toll plaza at Johor's Bangunan Sultan Iskandar (BSI) Customs Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex.

Some drivers from Singapore have paid up to RM50 (S$15.50) to these people, who use their card to pay toll charges for the drivers entering Malaysia.

Many travellers are now asking for a universal mode of payment at the two border crossings with Singapore, including via debit and credit cards.

Currently, besides using a Touch 'n Go card, Singaporeans can use their EZ-Link x Touch 'n Go motoring card at the BSI CIQ complex and the Sultan Abu Bakar CIQ complex at the Tuas Second Link.

This cashless card can be used in Singapore and Malaysia. However, it is sold only at selected 7-Eleven stores or petrol stations in Singapore.

Singaporean businessman L. Manan, 64, had trouble paying his toll charges when he recently drove into Johor, as his Touch 'n Go card had expired.

"The immigration officer directed me to a person near the toll area. When I approached the person to buy a new card, the person said they do not sell cards at the CIQ. But he was willing to 'help' with the toll for a fee," he said.

The toll amount was about RM23 but Mr Manan had to pay RM50 for the service. After leaving the CIQ, he drove around Johor Baru looking to buy a card but none was available.

He said the problem could be avoided if people can buy the cards or make top-ups at the CIQ complexes.

Another Singaporean, who wanted to be identified only as Tan, said a family in a car ahead of him had asked to use his Touch 'n Go card as theirs had expired.

"With the borders being reopened since April, there should be an adequate supply of such cards, especially around the CIQs.

"I also hope Touch 'n Go will allow for online top-ups, which are more convenient," he said. "The company should also have an office at both border crossings to sell cards and allow top-ups."

Malaysian engineer Nur Atiqah Muhd Fauzi, 27, who works in Singapore, also said she has been unable to buy a new Touch 'n Go card.

"I have been trying to get a card since May," she said.

Checks by The Star at petrol stations and convenience stores around the Johor Baru CIQ complex and the Second Link showed that they had run out of Touch 'n Go cards for some time.

Stulang assemblyman Andrew Chen Kah Eng said he has received many complaints on the issue.

"As all our CIQs are cashless, we should allow people to use their debit cards or even credit cards to pay," he said, adding that this issue had been raised several years ago. "We should have a universal payment system."

A Touch 'n Go customer service staff member, when contacted, said those wanting to purchase a card can do so via its website.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2022, with the headline Shortage of Touch 'n Go cards irks travellers driving into Johor. Subscribe