‘Expand road network to drive local economy’

Low says the Johor stretch of North-South Expressway should be widened to six lanes from the current four. — Filepic

The Federal and Johor governments are urged to consider upgrading and expanding the road network to improve connectivity and accessibility in the state.

Johor Baru Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Low Kueck Shin said the move would generate economic spillover effects to Johor.

“We need to have a long-term plan for a road infrastructure expansion programme to bring developments to all parts of Johor,’’ he said when contacted.

He added that it was high time the Federal Government upgraded the Johor stretch of North-South Expressway (NSE) to six lanes from the current four.

Low elaborated that the project was announced in April 2018 during the election campaign manifesto of Barisan Nasional Johor by the then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The expansion project to cover the 102km Yong Peng-Johor Baru stretch along the NSE did not materialise after Barisan was defeated in the last election.

“I hope the Federal Government and new Johor government can update us on the project,” he said.

He also suggested the 126.23km road from Pontian to Muar and the 134km Johor Baru-Mersing road be widened from two lanes to four.

Low said the upgrading of the two roads would bring economic benefits to villages and areas along the stretch.

“This can further promote the agro-tourism sector there,’’ he added.

Johor Baru Indian Business Organisation president P. Sivakumar opined that improvement in connectivity and accessibility would help to spread development in other Johor districts.

He said this could attract potential investors, especially manufacturing companies, to set up their operations in secondary towns in the state.

“This will create job opportunities for people in secondary towns and nearby rural areas, which will benefit the local economy.”

Sivakumar concurred with Low that it was timely for the Federal Government to consider upgrading the Johor stretch of NSE as promised.

He suggested that the upgrading project start from Pagoh instead of Yong Peng.

“The number of vehicles using the stretch is increasing during weekends, holidays and festive seasons,” he said.

Sivakumar said another issue that should be addressed was damaged and pothole-ridden roads.

He highlighted that failure to address the problem could lead to fatal incidents, especially involving two-wheelers.

“The authorities should patch up the potholes within 24 hours after receiving complaints instead of taking a long time to do the job,” he said.

Sivakumar added that there should be a task force to monitor and evaluate the contractor tasked with the job as most times, the potholes would reappear after some time.

He hoped that the authorities would take proactive measures to improve road conditions within industrial areas in Johor, especially Johor Baru, Pasir Gudang and Senai.

“Most of the roads in the industrial areas are in bad shape because of the presence of heavy vehicles.

“Manufacturers should contribute to the maintenance of these roads,’’ he said.

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