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Businesses feeling the crunch from rise in Causeway toll fees

Six grocery shopkeepers Channel NewsAsia spoke with said their sales have dropped by at least 20 per cent since Singapore increased its vehicle entry permit for foreign registered vehicles to S$35. 

SINGAPORE: Businesses on both sides of the Causeway on Friday (Aug 8) said sales have been affected since Malaysia's toll hikes and Singapore's increase in vehicle entry permit fees came into effect last week. This comes amid news that a review of Malaysia's toll hikes is unlikely to happen.

A car wash outlet along Taman Century in Johor Bahru washes about 50 Singaporean cars daily. However, as of noon on Friday, it had seen only about 10 customers from Singapore.

Singaporeans are also regular visitors at Johor's many eateries and shops selling local delicacies. One Bak Kut Teh eatery in JB said business has decreased between 30 and 60 per cent.

In Singapore, six grocery shopkeepers at Woodlands Centre Road told Channel NewsAsia their sales have dropped by at least 20 per cent since Singapore increased its vehicle entry permit for foreign registered vehicles to S$35.

These cars will have to pay the permit fee between 2am and 5pm on weekdays, and until 12pm on weekdays during the June and December school holidays.

According to shopkeepers, Malaysians often come to Singapore to buy instant noodles and canned food, which tend to be cheaper here, as well as fruits which customers say are fresher in Singapore.

Mr Wong, a grocery shopkeeper at Woodlands Centre Road, said: "If I come in on Saturday or Sunday, I don't have to pay S$35. I can use the S$35 to buy fruits or other things. But right now, I have to pay S$35. I haven't bought anything, but I've already paid S$35."

The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) says it conducted a quick poll of its members attending an SBF seminar on August 4. Of the 20 responses received, most said the toll fee hike would hit their business costs and could also result in shipment delays. 

They said both the Singapore and Malaysian governments should consult the business community before implementing such hikes in the future.

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