Singapore— A spokesman for the Ministry of Transport (MOT) said on June 19, Wednesday, that the country welcomes the plan from Malaysia to build sheltered walkways across the Causeway that will connect Johor to Woodlands.
However, there has been no official communication of the intent to build the walkways from Malaysia just yet.
According to the MOT spokesman, “We welcome the construction of a sheltered walkway on Malaysia’s side linking the Johor Baru CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex) to the pedestrian walkway on Singapore’s side,” answering questions from news portal TODAY.
The spokesman also said that Singapore already has an existing pedestrian walkway on its side of the Causeway, most of which is not under a shelter, and can be accessed only on the outbound side of the Causeway on the way to Malaysia.
Bernama, Malaysia’s national news agency, reported earlier on June 19 concerning Johor’s plans to build a 1.2 km walkway on the Causeway for the people who walk from Malaysia to Singapore and vice versa.
The walkway is expected to cost RM15 million (S$4.9 million) and is to be built on the motorcycle lanes on both sides of the Causeway. It is also expected to be shaded.
This was announced by Mohd Solihan Badri, the chairman of Johor Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation Committee. He said that Johor came to this decision after learning that many Malaysians take the risk of crossing the link with safety without the walkway, particularly during peak hours when people are in a hurry out of a desire to avoid heavy traffic.
Mr Mohd Soliman said,
“This is at the proposal stage. With the walkway, we can resolve this safety issue.
We’ve found that many bus passengers are encroaching on lanes used by vehicles to beat the traffic before continuing their journey by public transport when they reach the other side.
Consultants are preparing a detailed proposal for the state government to study and it should be ready in about two or three weeks.”
He also said that 60 percent of individuals crossing the causeway are actually pedestrians.
The Johor Public Works Chairman was speaking to members of the media after a visit to the planned site of the walkway the day before at the Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex.
According to TODAY, approximately 300,000 people make the crossing between Singapore and Malaysia every day.
The spokesman from the MOT added that Singapore has committed to cooperate with Malaysia in finding workable solutions to solving congestion problems on the Causeway.
Earlier this year, a task force led by Stulang assemblyman Andrew Chen was assembled for the purpose of looking for solutions to the problem of congestion at the Causeway.
One of the most important recommendations it made is the proposal that there be only one single government agency for handling all the operations at the checkpoint.
Chen told the New Straits Times in January that there are too many entities that are involved the Sultan Iskandar customs, immigration and quarantine operations in Johor Bahru.
”There are 23 departments and agencies operating at the complex at the moment, and each would report to their own respective superiors. This would make it difficult to implement any changes as each department and agency has its own instructions.”
He further noted that Malaysia needs to look to Singapore as an example, where only one agency, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), spearheads all the issues concerned with the checkpoints. “With a single agency, we will be able to reduce bureaucracy in the border administration and improve response time whenever there is any problem.”
In July 2018, the Causeway congestion task force was assembled to examine the issues that the checkpoint faces, and to see how these could be solved. Another task force is in charge of doing the same for the Malaysia-Singapore Second Link./ TISG