Channel NewsAsia

Commuters stranded in JB bus strike trek to Singapore

Commuters said while they were aware of the toll increases, the strike caught them by surprise. But the crowd streaming into Woodlands Checkpoint was orderly, and Singapore authorities said there were no public order incidents this morning.

SINGAPORE: The strike staged by Malaysian bus drivers at the Johor checkpoint early Friday morning (August 1) caused a bottleneck, affecting workers and students travelling to Singapore.

The strike was sparked by new toll charges imposed by Malaysia. Announced by the Malaysian Highway Authority last week, the new toll charges for vehicles heading into Singapore are RM6.80 (S$2.65), RM10.20, RM13.60, RM3.40 and RM5.50 for Class 1 to Class 5 vehicles, respectively. Only motorcyclists are exempted from paying toll.

Commuters who spoke to Channel NewsAsia said while they were aware of the toll increases, the strike caught them by surprise. But the crowd was orderly, although some appeared frustrated. 

The bottleneck prompted some to walk to Singapore. A primary school boy who got stuck in the strike said: “My brother went to ask some people and they said there was some strike or something. We saw a lot of people walking, so we also decided to walk." 

Another man who made the trek on foot decided to look on the bright side: "It was just like going to a Thaipusam (procession). It was really crowded until I reached Singapore ... it was beautiful."

The crowd walking out of Woodlands Checkpoint had subsided by 12pm. Despite that, there was continued police presence in the area, including some Special Operations Command officers. Local authorities said there were no public order incidents this morning.

SBS Transit said 26 buses were stuck in Johor Bahru on Friday morning. To prevent more from being stranded in the jam, it stopped buses from going into Johor Bahru at about 8am. By 10am, all the buses had resumed service.

In the latest statement from Malaysia's Works Ministry, it said "there was no strike by bus drivers at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) this morning". Rather, "what happened was a small commotion caused by the refusal of two bus drivers to pay the toll imposed at the CIQ."  

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