Out of curiosity I’ve been monitoring the outbound traffic to JB for two weeks. The JB state government may not like to know this: the number of a Singapore cars crossing over has fallen dramatically.
To see things at first hand, I crossed over the other day. I took the 400% JB toll hike in my stride.
Where it was bumper to bumper traffic, it was now free flowing. Even the immigration officers appeared more relaxed.
Some quarters in Malaysia claimed that there has been a fall of only 5%. I doubt it when the flow of outbound vehicles has been reduced to a trickle.
As expected, it was a breeze through the two checkpoints. The usual congestion outside the two petrol stations near the JB checkpoints had vanished. They used to do a roaring business for U-turn motorists, who after cheerfully filling up their tanks with cheaper petrol, would head home.
At the Giant supermarket Singapore cars were conspicuously missing. A car wash employee was waving frantically by the roadside urging motorists to come in.
Taking pity on him I went in to wash my car (RM 10 for a snow wash). He said business had plunged dramatically. At the petrol station, an attendant also said the same thing: poor business. I used to have to wait before for my turn because of the huge number of Singapore motorists but that’s history now.
But one thing that never changes is the sight of many JB traffic cops outside the JB ICQ. Even though there are fewer Singapore cars now, “business” is still not bad for them. So “hardworking” are they that even on rainy days, they don’t vacate their favourite fishing spots.
After two weeks, Singaporeans are still giving JB the miss. When the Singapore government, never one to fail to seize the opportunity to squeeze more money from Singaporeans (but spend the least on social well-being of its citizens among developed countries), matches the JB toll hike it’s the last nail in JB’s coffin. With the double whammy, it’s totally not worth the while to go to JB.
Unless the Malaysian government somehow finds a way to restore the pull factor which used to draw Singaporeans by the thousands to JB. Perhaps, allowing Singapore cars to pump the cheaper RON 95 petrol? But this may not be right as subsidized petrol should only be reserved for Malaysians.
Malaysians too are giving Singapore the miss. So which side will blink first?