Border reopening: JB-Singapore taxi drivers breathe a sigh of relief


JOHOR BAHRU – Following the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak that had disrupted people’s lives, the announcement on the reopening of land borders starting April 1, is the long-awaited light at the end of the tunnel for many, especially taxi drivers plying the Johor Bahru-Singapore route.

Hafiz Kasah, 48, who had been transporting Malaysians and Singaporeans since six years ago said the announcement of border reopening was highly-awaited news for taxi drivers.

The father of seven children, Hafiz said the COVID-19 pandemic had forced him and his fellow drivers to resort to selling food while waiting for the situation to recover.

“We had to look for other initiatives to survive…we all have families to feed, Alhamdulillah, of course, we are grateful and welcome the government’s announcement (on border reopening) yesterday,” he told Bernama when met at Larkin Sentral bus terminal here today.

Fellow driver, Azali Ahmad, 58, said he was excited and could not wait to resume work, taking commuters and tourists to and from Singapore.

“We (taxi drivers) are extremely grateful and happy as this is what we have been waiting for, for the past two years.  I hope it will come true.

“(Due to COVID-19) we didn’t have any income because when Singaporeans could not come here, we could not travel to the country, however, I am grateful I still have other sources of income,” said Azali who started driving taxis three years ago.

Overall, there are a total of 200 taxi drivers plying the Johor Bahru-Singapore route at the terminal and most of them will take commuters from Johor Bahru to the Bugis taxi stand and the Singapore-Johor taxi station in Ronchor, Singapore.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong through a joint statement issued by the prime minister’s offices of the two countries announced that Malaysia and Singapore agreed to reopen their land borders for fully vaccinated travellers beginning April 1, without the need for them to take COVID-19 pre-departure and arrival tests or be quarantined, in line with the transition into the endemic phase.