The Unending Causeway War

If you have not read or been affected by what we have dubbed “The Causeway War”, the transport ministries of frenemies Malaysia and Singapore have been one-upping each other on vehicle entry charges for some years now. It doesn’t appear that there will be a permanent ceasefire anytime soon.

Read also: The Causeway War Continues.

So, on the Malaysian side, a RM20 charge per entry is charged for foreign cars entering the Johor borders. Those travelling into Johor will have to tap their Touch n’ Go cards – which are RFID cards that can be pre-loaded with credit – for the road charge as well as the causeway toll.

When the fee took effect on 1 November last year, Straits Times visited the checkpoints and found that motorists were unfazed by the new charges. Let’s face it – the Ringgit is worth almost nothing compared to the Sing Dollar, and the new entry charge is but chump change to Singaporeans.

Still, the Singapore transport authorities are not as acquiescent. A few days ago, they announced that starting mid-February, they will be implementing a Reciprocal Road Charge (RRC) to match the Malaysia Road Charge. The word “reciprocal” shows that it’s a blatant game of one-upping each other. The RRC will match the value of the Malaysia road charge, making it SG$6.40 for each entry of non-Singapore registered vehicles entering Singapore. This fee comes on top of a Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) of SG$35 for foreign vehicles entering Singapore on weekdays, from 2am to 5pm.

When introducing the RRC, the Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that it was “to ensure that Malaysia takes into consideration our response whenever they raise their tolls or introduce a new levy” and that is was a “long-standing policy” to match any entry fees imposed by Malaysia. Well, in the spirit of “responding”, the Malaysian transport authorities is also considering imposing a Vehicle Entry Permit to match the one charged by their Singaporean counterpart.

Sigh. Meanwhile, the citizens of both countries are caught in the crossfire and have to bear the cost of the increasing/additional fees, while the transport ministries are caught up in their ego trips. Is there an end to this Causeway War? Will one party ever raise the white flag? We don’t suppose so. Motorists from both sides do have the Singapore-Malaysia High Speed Rail to look forward to, and that will start running in…2026.


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