Johor Baru—Residents of Johor are none too enthusiastic about initiatives from the Malaysian government to ease traffic at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex, expressing doubts that the plan to add 50 more counters for people on motorcycles would make traffic flow easier in the area.
On Friday, October 11, as the national budget for next year was announced, the country’s Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng announced that the government intends to invest RM85 million (S$28 million) to help address severe traffic problems through opening 50 more counters for motorcyclists and that the Immigration and PLUS counters would be streamlined.
Mr Lim said that over 300,000 Malaysians commute between Singapore and Johor every day.
Currently, there are 100 lanes for motorcycles at the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar CIQ in Johor Baru, and 50 lanes at the Second Link at the Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar.
The Star Online reports K. Sushtendran as saying that he did not believe the plan would make that much of an impact.
“Hundreds of motorcyclists cross both the Causeway and Second Link every day. I do not think that extra 50 lanes will make any difference.
“It may help to reduce a bit of the congestion but the problem will still remain,” the technician said.
As for Edmund Tan, a restaurant manager, his concern was that there would be a sufficient number of people to work in the new counters. He said, “The more urgent thing to look into is ensuring that there are enough officers to man the counters.”
K Visvam, a private security officer, said the main cause of the congestion at the Causeway and Second Link is that there are many other kinds of bigger vehicles, including cars, trucks and buses.
To further ease traffic congestion, the Finance Minister added that the government intends to go through with the plan to build the Rapid Transit System (RTS) that would connect Johor Baru to Singapore.
An agreement between the governments of Singapore and Malaysia was signed in 2018 to build the 4-kilometer cross-border MRT link that would go from Woodlands (Singapore) to Bukit Chagar (Johor), which would ostensibly decrease the outflow of vehicles crossing the Causeway.
However, Malaysia has asked to be given additional time to respond to Singapore concerning building the RTS link project, which is budgeted at RM4 billion (S$1.3 billion). The RTS link was scheduled to begin operations by the last quarter of 2024.
A bilateral agreement dating from January of last year mandated for a joint venture company consisting of Singapore’s SMRT and Malaysia’s Prasarana Malaysia to be formed by June 30, 2018. This joint venture company would have been appointed as the operator of the RTS Link, as per a Concession Agreement between the Malaysian government and Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) by September 30, 2018. Neither one of these deadlines were met.
On its part, Singapore’s LTA put together almost 70 employees and engineers for the project. It has also called civil tenders for constructing related infrastructure.
After last year’s General Election in Malaysia, the new administration put ongoing projects under review. Malaysia had said that the high-speed rail project between the two nations would be postponed, but that the RTS project would continue, according to Malaysia’s Transport Minister Anthony Loke. -/TISG