A new system to be implemented at the Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints by next year will help the authorities detect and nab motorists who do not pay their tolls and fees.
Currently, it is up to motorists to pay the tolls when they pull up at immigration booths to have their passports inspected. They pay by inserting their CashCards or Autopass cards into payment machines placed outside the booths.
Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore officers stationed in the booths are responsible only for the immigration and security clearance of the travellers, and the barriers are lifted when they are done.
Under the new system, motorists will get ample warning to pay the tolls. If payment is not made, there will be a delay before the barriers are lifted, with an accompanying audio message reminder.
Subsequently, on-duty enforcement officers from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will be alerted if motorists still fail to pay.
The enforcement measures, which the LTA revealed to The Straits Times recently, will further combat the problem of motorists cheating on toll payment, following stiffer penalties introduced in August last year.
The LTA said the number of notices issued to motorists for failing to pay tolls and fees at the checkpoints has dropped by 84 percent, from about 2500 to 400 a month, after the penalties kicked in.
The majority of those caught were driving Singapore-registered cars, the LTA said, adding that the proportion of repeat offenders has remained low at around 0.3 percent.
Motorists caught not paying tolls the first time are fined $50, while repeat offenders are fined $100. Before the fines were implemented, a $10 administrative fee was levied when motorists were caught.
Still, the LTA is studying the use of cameras, sensors and data analytics to help with enforcement in the future.
The estimated annual revenue loss from toll evasion is 8 percent of the total amount of tolls and fees collected at the two land checkpoints, according to an analysis of data from March to May last year. This is about $12 million, out of an annual average of $150 million collected in the past three years.
An LTA spokesman said that since the fines were introduced, the revenue loss has been reduced by more than half, to under 4 percent.
Some drivers have complained that the current system is unfair.
“Yes, there are signs advising you to pay, but when the barrier is lifted, I assume that I should proceed and perhaps pay the fees farther on,” said freelance writer Fang Zhiwen, 32, who was fined $50 last month for not paying the tolls. She added that the new system clears up all doubts.
The LTA spokesman said signs are placed at prominent locations along the way to the checkpoints and in front of every immigration booth, and that it is the “responsibility of each motorist” to pay the required tolls and fees.