VTL-Land gets warm welcome


JOHOR BARU: The Vaccinated Travel Lane for land crossings (VTL-Land) via the Causeway, along with flights (VTL-Air) between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore beginning Nov 29 has been welcomed by many.

VTL users will get to enjoy quarantine-free travel between the two countries, marking the beginning of some measure of normalisation as more than 95% of the adult population in both Malaysia and Singapore are already fully vaccinated.

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However, some are asking that the standard operating procedures (SOP) be standardised, Covid-19 test costs be lowered and waiting times for test results be shortened.

Johor Baru Malay Hawkers, Traders and Small Business Entrepreneurs Association secretary Mohammad Salezan Mohd Salleh said the opening of the Causeway would help revive the local economy.

“We have been waiting for this news for almost two years. This is something good as almost 60% of our members folded (their business) and some even went bankrupt,” he said in an interview.

The association has about 6,104 members in the city.

Asked how the entry of nearly 1,500 VTL-Land users from Singapore here each day next week would change things for traders, Mohammad Salezan said: “Something is better than nothing at the moment.

“Our hope is that everything goes well and after that, the number can be gradually increased.

“We have also reminded all our members not to be complacent and to follow the SOP so that the border can be opened up to more people.”

Johor Indian Business Association president P. Sivakumar said that while VTL-Land was very much welcomed, both governments needed to standardise their SOP to ensure they did not burden the people.

“In Singapore, they are a bit flexible as they are allowing for antigen rapid testing (RTK), while Malaysia is insisting on PCR tests, which is nearly double the cost of the RTK tests.

“I hope that besides allowing people to travel in buses, our Tebrau Shuttle train services with Singapore can also resume to bring in more people across the Causeway,” he added.

Malaysian Budget Hotel Association Johor chairman Jarod Chia was optimistic that VTL-Land would help spur local tourism, which depends greatly on Singapore residents.

“We hope that with the land border slowly opening up, we will have more visitors to our theme parks, beach resorts, islands and even our national parks,” he said, adding that the move was timely, especially with the looming year-end holiday season.

Earlier, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that both VTL-Air and VTL-Land would commence beginning Nov 29, with the latter using only designated buses.

He said that the launch of VTL-Land coinciding with VTL-Air would enhance bilateral and economic relations between both countries.

“Apart from workers, VTL-Land will provide an opportunity for Malaysians and Singaporeans on both sides of the Causeway, who have been separated from their families due to the Covid-19 pandemic, to be reunited with their loved ones,” the Prime Minister added.

VTL-Land users can be Malaysian and Singaporean citizens and permanent residents, as well as holders of Malaysia and Singapore long-term passes.

Travellers must be fully vaccinated, while unvaccinated children below the age of 12 must be accompanied by vaccinated parents or guardians.

Ismail Sabri said both governments had also agreed on a daily quota not exceeding 1,500 travellers for each way of travel at the initial stage with weekly increments.

“Malaysia and Singapore have achieved a more than 95% vaccination rate of their adult population.

“This has offered the opportunity for both countries to reopen the land border in a gradual, safe, systematic and sustainable manner,” he added.

VTL-Land users on the Johor side will board and disembark at designated Causeway Link or Transtar Travel buses at the Larkin Sentral terminal in Johor Baru, while those on the Singapore side will use the Queen Street Terminal.

VTL-Land travellers from Singapore into Malaysia must register at www.mysafetravel.gov.my, while those headed in the opposite direction should go to go.gov.sg/vtl-portal before any bus ticket is purchased.More details on VTL-Land can be found on www.miti.gov.my and www.safetravel.ica.gov.sg.

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