BUSINESS associations are hoping the Federal Government will improve existing infrastructures in Johor to help boost the state’s economy.
Johor Baru Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Low Kueck Shin said this was needed now that the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project had been called off after the agreement between Malaysia and Singapore had lapsed.
He said Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri, where the three stations were to be located in the state, had missed the opportunity to benefit in terms of economic spillover from the project.
“There are three things that Putrajaya needs to look into now to boost development in Johor.’’
He said the 150km stretch from Pagoh, Muar to Johor Baru along the North-South Expressway (NSE) needed to be widened from four to six lanes.
Low said the current four lanes were no longer sufficient to accommodate the high number of motorists using the route.
He said Iskandar Malaysia would benefit from the widening of the Pagoh-Johor Baru stretch as it would attract more investments into the country’s first economic growth corridor.
In April 2018, then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that the NSE from Yong Peng to Johor Baru would be widened from four to six lanes.
“We also hope the government will consider upgrading the coastal road linking Pontian to Muar, ” said Low, noting that it would spur development along the 125km route.
He also suggested the average travelling speed of the electrified double-tracking project (EDTP) from Padang Besar on the Thai border to Johor Baru be increased from 100km/h to 140km/h.
The Gemas-Johor Baru EDTP is making steady progress and is scheduled for completion by October 2022.
Apart from track upgrading, 12 existing stations between Gemas and Johor Baru will be upgraded as part of the project.
In addition, a new railway station will be constructed near the Senai International Airport to complement upcoming residential and industrial developments within the area.
Iskandar Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Md Salikon Sarpin said the Rapid Transit Link (RTS) project linking Johor Baru and Singapore was more viable compared to the HSR.
“We can look forward to better connectivity and accessibility between Johor Baru and Singapore and the RTS will bring long-term benefits to south Johor.”
He said the government made the right decision with the HSR project as the country did not have the critical mass unlike Shinkasen, the Japanese bullet train.
He said the RM10bil RTS was expected to be up and running by 2026, ready to serve between 300,000 and 400,000 locals who commute daily from Johor Baru to Singapore for work.
“Iskandar Malaysia is going to benefit the most from the RTS project due to its close proximity to Singapore, ” said Md Salikon.
He said among the sectors to benefit from the project were manufacturing, property, retail, hospitality, tourism, food and beverage, medical, entertainment and education.
Johor Indian Business Association president P. Sivakumar said the main focus now was to ensure there would be no delays in completing the RTS project.
“The RTS is a high-impact project to spur economic activities in downtown Johor Baru.”
He said the project would be linked with the MRT on the Singapore side, which would allow more people from the island to come to Johor Baru.
Sivakumar said the project would also take the pressure off the Causeway as congestion was heavy, especially during peak hours and public holidays.
“This has resulted in economic loss and opportunity cost as investors are deterred from investing in Iskandar Malaysia, ” he noted.
The RTS connects Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru to Woodlands in Singapore and will help ease congestion on the Causeway.