JB folk losing sleep over 24-hour car washes

JOHOR BARU: Carwash services have mushroomed in the state capital, especially near the Causeway, much to the annoyance of residents and road users.

On a drive around the city, one will notice many carwash outlets not only at commercial lots but also near residential properties in Taman Sri Tebrau, Taman Sentosa, Taman Pelangi, Taman Abad and Taman Melodies.

Many of these 24-hour operators have renovated houses and put up structures for carwash services.

Residents are questioning why such services are allowed to operate in housing areas.

Taman Sri Tebrau resident Candice Tan, 38, said four carwash shops had opened on Jalan Cokmar since last July.

“The latest one opened in a corner lot directly behind my house earlier this year.

“The 24-hour business is noisy, especially at night.

“My family and I often have trouble sleeping because of the water jet and vacuum cleaner noises.

“The noise gets worse on weekends when many owners of foreign-registered vehicles patronise the operation.

“From time to time, the carwash workers, who are foreign labourers, would argue with each other and we have to endure that noise as well,” she told StarMetro.

She claimed that when the shop first opened, the workers used to throw rubbish in the alley between the business premises and her house.

JB carwash

“We always saw a pile of rubbish outside of our kitchen.

“My husband spoke to the workers a few times and they finally moved the rubbish bin to the other corner of their lot, but it is still unsightly.”

Tan questioned whether the carwash outlets were authorised by the local council to operate.

She also wondered how four such businesses were allowed to open in close proximity to each other within a housing area.

“Recently, I drove past Jalan Abiad and noticed that Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) had sealed off two houses that had structures which looked like they had been outfitted for a car wash. (See sidebar)

“I hope the authorities will take firm action against unregistered carwash shops,” she added.

Tan said MBJB needed to have better planning to maintain peace and quiet in neighbourhoods.

Another Taman Sri Tebrau resident, Rashidi Hassan said the carwash shops raised concerns about the discharge of detergents and dirty water.

He queried whether residential drainage systems could cope with it.

“I am worried about the toxins from chemicals that flow into our drains.

“When carwash outlets open right next to houses, they tend to obstruct traffic and cause inconvenience for residents.

“It is annoying to see vehicles parked at the side of the road or taking up space meant for residents.

“This has been happening for years,” said Rashidi, 50.

He said there were also many housing lots that had been converted into commercial lots near Jalan Serampang in Taman Sri Tebrau.

S. Sathian, 65, said the mushrooming of carwash outlets, whether legal or illegal, was because of a high demand for the service.

“It is common knowledge among local residents that many visitors from Singapore cross the border into Johor Baru for leisure and shopping.

“Many of my friends from Singapore do this and usually get their cars washed here too, because it is much cheaper than in their home country,” he said.

He added that customers usually sent their vehicles to the car wash before heading out for meals and grocery shopping nearby.

Sathian is unhappy that many of the carwash shops also put chairs and plastic bottles on the road to “reserve” parking spots for their customers.

“This causes obstructions to the traffic flow and is dangerous for motorists who might drive into the items, especially when roads are narrow like those in Taman Abad where a lot of carwash shops are operating.”

Based on StarMetro’s observations, there are no fewer than seven carwash outlets operating in residential units in Taman Sri Tebrau alone.

In Taman Abad, at least 10 carwash shops are found operating at residential units that have been renovated to accommodate the business around a popular shopping centre and hotels in the area.

Some of the outlets place small plastic drums to block off a section of the street beside the premises, posing a hazard to road users.

One operation even has three attendants, who are foreigners, standing on the road and calling for motorists to send their cars for a wash, especially when foreign-registered vehicles are approaching.

In Taman Abad, a carwash attendant who declined to be named said a basic carwash service for a hatchback vehicle was priced at RM12 while the cost for a standard saloon car was RM15.

Residents are unhappy that many of the car wash outlets operating at housing units also placed items such as plastic bottles and drums on the road, which posed a hazard and obstructed traffic flow. — THOMAS YONG/The Star

Sports utility vehicles and multi-purpose vehicles were charged between RM18 and RM25 per wash, he said, noting that most customers drove Singapore-registered vehicles.

He said foreign customers often opted for polishing and detailing services that cost up to a few hundred ringgit.

“However, business is not as good now compared to the period before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Back then, we could get around 100 cars a day during weekends.

“These days it is difficult to get 30 customers on weekdays, or 50 cars on weekends.

“We are facing tough competition because many new carwash shops have opened up in our area,” said the attendant.

A Singaporean, who wanted to be known only as Nik, said he noticed from a year ago the many new 24-hour carwash shops opening in Johor Baru.

The 37-year-old, who works in the IT industry, said he would visit Johor Baru with his wife every two weeks to stock up on groceries and go to cafes.

“I will usually get a car wash before heading back to Singapore.

“I used to go to Jalan Dato Abdullah Tahir in Taman Abad or Taman Pelangi to get my car washed but I noticed many new businesses popping up in Taman Sri Tebrau lately,” he said.

He added that the businesses were located just a few minutes’ drive from Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex, so it was convenient for him to make a stop there before returning to Singapore.
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