KUALA LUMPUR, July 29 — Acrimony between Malaysia and Singapore over road charges for the Causeway linking the two is set to worsen, with the republic saying it will match any increase in tolls collected on the Johor side of the bridge.
Ties between the two countries over commuters plying the link are already strained following Singapore’s move to raise vehicle entry fees, which prompted Putrajaya to introduce a similar tax for foreign vehicles entering via the country’s southern border.
And following the report that Malaysia may increase toll charges for the Causeway by as much as threefold for inbound vehicles, Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it will follow suit with an equivalent amount if the rumours prove true, according to The Straits Times today.
“If there is indeed a new toll, or an increase in toll charges, at the Causeway, the Singapore Government will match the new toll and increase in toll charges in due course,” a spokesman for the LTA was quoted as saying in the ST report.
Saying that it has not received official notice of such a hike from its Malaysian counterpart, the LTA explained that it was its practice to fix toll rates on its side of the Causeway to Malaysia’s while taking into account prevalent exchange rates.
Private passenger vehicles entering Johor via the Causeway currently pay RM2.90 there and S$1.20 (RM3.07) in Singapore, but it is being reported that Putrajaya will raise the Malaysian toll to RM9.70, or 334 per cent the original charge.
There is no toll collected for vehicles exiting Johor via the Causeway, but the same reports added that a RM6.80 toll would also be introduced. In total, a motorist driving a typical family saloon would have to pay RM16.50 for a round trip — more than five-and-a-half times what it now costs — before Singaporean charges.
If Singapore does match the reported hike by Malaysia, motorists must feasibly pay RM26.20 just for toll charges to use the Causeway.
The increase is in addition to the RM50 vehicle entry permit (VEP) charge that Malaysia is planning to introduce in an apparent response to a hike in the same fee on Singapore’s side.
But the LTA said that it has also not received any information on this.
According to Singapore news channel Channel NewsAsia, Singapore will revise the VEP fee on foreign cars entering the republic from S$20 (RM51.26) to S$35 (RM89.71) effective August 1.
Once-testy relations between the two Southeast Asian neighbours have grown balmy in recent years, culminating in infrastructure joint ventures in both countries such as the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail link.
But the recent controversy over Singapore’s VEP increase and Malaysia’s apparent retaliation is again leading to strains in ties linking the countries that were part of the same nation from 1963 to 1965.