With an estimated $12 million of revenue lost in a year from motorists evading the payment of tolls and fees at the Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is studying new ways to outwit the cheats.
The authority said yesterday that besides amending the law to bar foreign vehicles with unpaid tolls, fees and fines from entering or leaving Singapore, it is also relooking the process through which payment is collected at immigration booths.
Checkpoint tolls apply to both Singapore- and foreign-registered vehicles, while the latter group is also subject to Vehicle Entry Permit fees and fixed Electronic Road Pricing fees.
One possibility, the LTA said, is to work with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (ICA) to have the drop-arm barriers at the booths that allow motorists through lifted only when they have paid up.
More details will be announced later, it said.
Stiffer penalties are also set to kick in next month, with a composition sum of $50 being introduced for motorists who evade tolls and fees. Repeat offenders will have to pay $100. Currently, only a $10 administrative fee is levied when motorists are caught.
Additionally, motorists who do not pay the composition sum and who are then charged can be fined up to $1,000 upon conviction, or jailed for up to three months for the first offence.
An LTA spokesman told The Straits Times that based on an analysis of data from March to May this year, the annual revenue loss is about 8 per cent of the total amount of tolls and fees collected at the two land checkpoints. This works out to about $12 million, with an annual average of $150 million collected in the past three years.
"More than half of the motorists who evade payment are non-Singaporeans," the LTA said.
Motorists pulling up at the immigration booths to have their passports inspected are expected to pay the required amounts by inserting their CashCards or Autopass cards into payment machines outside the booths.
As it is left to their own discretion, some choose to underpay or not pay at all.
The Straits Times understands that ICA officers stationed in the booths are responsible only for the immigration and security clearance of travellers.
The LTA said it deploys enforcement officers to catch motorists who evade payment and has increased the number of officers by 20 per cent to almost 100 since May. More signs have also been put up to remind motorists to pay.