Crowd at Woodlands Interchange dwindles after lockdown kicks in
Vendors at bus depot brace for tough times
On the first day of Malaysia's lockdown yesterday, the crowd at the normally bustling Woodlands Interchange dwindled.
The bus bay for service 950, which goes to Johor Baru, had a barricade set up in front with a notice saying the service has been suspended from yesterday to March 31.
The lockdown, announced on Monday to prevent the spread of Covid-19, prevents all Malaysians from travelling abroad. Tourists and visitors will also not be allowed to enter.
Businesses at the interchange have been badly hit.
Madam Salma Hussain, 65, who runs a small kiosk selling curry puffs and other food items, told The New Paper she expects business to get worse.
She said: "Usually in the morning and into the late afternoon, there will be long queues, especially for Bus 950.
"Many people buy curry puffs from me, especially those who arrive from Malaysia and are rushing off to work or school."
Madam Salma, who has been running the kiosk for four months with her friend, said they used to earn up to $200 by the afternoon and sometimes hit $300 to $400 by the time they close the kiosk at 4pm.
But by yesterday noon, she had earned only about $100.
Madam Goh So Hua, 56, a cleaner at a canteen at the interchange, said the crowd has reduced by half.
It was a salient difference from Tuesday when the interchange was chaotic with people rushing to Singapore from Malaysia and back before the lockdown kicked in at midnight.
Some have chosen to stay in Singapore for the sake of their families or studies.
A Malaysian SMRT bus driver who declined to be named said his wife and four children live in Johor Baru, but he has chosen to stay in Singapore to work.
He said: "Of course I am scared the lockdown will extend beyond March 31. It can be months before I see my family. But earning money so they can have food on the table is more important than seeing them."
Malaysian Ashley Bek, 17, who travels to Johor Baru every weekend to see her family, said her plans to spend the upcoming holidays in Malaysia have been scrapped.
Ashley, a student at the Institute of Technical Education, said: "The news was sudden, and we had little time to decide what to do."
She chose to stay in Singapore with her father and sister because they were afraid of not being able to return here should the lockdown be extended.
She added: "Some people have said we can't complain because we chose to work here, or that we are spreading the disease.
"But it was a tough choice for us, to choose between making a living (in the case of her father) and seeing our family. We did not want this either."