Gridlock at Causeway

Slowdown: A view of the congestion at the Causeway, with Johor in the foreground.

JOHOR BARU: The usual traffic congestion at the Causeway here has worsened due to the health screening at the entry points of both Johor and Singapore.

Frequent travellers passing through the Causeway have expressed their frustration over the congestion, which has gotten from bad to worse during peak hours, especially on Fridays and weekends.

Singaporean policeman Abdul Haniff Abdul Hamid, 38, who was passing through the Causeway to enter Johor at about 1pm, said that he noticed traffic started to build up at about noon on Friday.

“The Causeway would normally still be empty at that time and will only start to get congested at around 3pm on Friday,” he said.

Another traveller, Malaysian S.Sathia, 36, who works as a security officer in Singapore, said that temperature screening on those entering Malaysia started a few days back.

“After the temperature checks started, the traffic seems to be slower than usual.

“Previously you would only see three or four cars queuing up to enter Johor at 6am, but now I can see a lot more than that number,” he said.

Meanwhile, cafe assistant Asilah Manof, 27, said that while the congestion was bad, it was something that many frequent travellers were used to.

“The traffic on the Causeway was pretty bad today but it is normal for it to be congested as it is a Friday.

“Many people will be entering Johor to spend the weekends on Friday,” she said, adding that she expects it to be far worse this weekend.

She added that the temperature checks have also contributed to the congestion here.

Singapore raised its alert status level from yellow to orange on Feb 7 due to heightened risk of infection as four cases of infected patients in the country had no known links to China or the people who were already infected.

This means that the Covid-19 (coronavirus) could be spreading in the community.

Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Lorry Operators Association secretary-general Alvin Choong questioned if the Singapore government would quarantine lorry drivers who register a high temperature reading while travelling back to Malaysia

“Obviously there are a lot of lorry drivers now getting very worried because if they go into Singapore and are detected with (high) temperature, I don’t know if the government will hold them back for quarantine.

“That’s why right now it is a very uncomfortable situation,” he said.

Choong said the majority of the lorry drivers mainly deliver food items to Singapore, adding that they would also carry cargo back from the Singapore port.

The Federation of Livestock Farmers’ Associations of Malaysia adviser, Datuk Jeffrey Ng, said so far it has not seen any differences in the delivery of goods into Singapore by the authorities.

“They (the Singapore government) have not sent out any new instructions to us. So, if there is no new instruction, it should be status quo.

“Usually if there are any changes, Singapore will inform us early.

“The whole thing about this Covid-19 is that it is human to human, and up till now, Singapore’s status is only yellow to orange (alert status). They are not sealing their city or town, so I think everything is still normal,” he said.

Under Dorscon, or the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition, the orange alert status means that the outbreak has a moderate to high public health impact.

The yellow alert status refers to a mild infection or a severe infection but it is not spreading.

This is only the second time that Singapore has activated the orange alert status since the swine flu (H1N1) outbreak in 2009.

Singapore has so far seen 58 people being infected with the virus while Malaysia has 19 confirmed cases.

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