Johor Causeway finally reopens after 20 months of Covid-19-induced closure

SINGAPORE: One of the busiest border crossings in the world, the Johor-Singapore Causeway, was officially reopened today with the launch of the Vaccinated Travel Lane via land crossing (VTL-Land) on Monday (Nov 29).

It was jointly launched by Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong at the Woodlands checkpoint.

The 97-year old Causeway, which is also known as Tambak Johor, was closed to 400,000-odd travellers daily since mid-March 2020 to curb the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus.

Ismail Sabri made a momentous journey by crossing the 1km bridge entering the republic from Johor Baru Monday morning before he and his delegation were welcomed by Lee, who was accompanied by his four Cabinet ministers.

Ismail Sabri is accompanied by Senior Minister and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali; Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah; Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong; and Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad, as well as other senior officials.

Lee, meanwhile, was accompanied by Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean; Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan; Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong; as well as Minister for Transport and Minister-in-Charge of Trade Relations, S Iswaran.

In announcing the VTL-Land scheme on Nov 24, Malaysia’s Prime Minister’s Office said that the initial stage will be limited to only bus transportation with a daily quota not exceeding 1,500 travellers.

Other modes of land transportation will be included in stages with the daily quota of travellers to be increased on weekly basis.

The initiative aims to facilitate quarantine-free, seamless cross-border movement integrating health protocol, security, and immigration clearance.

The Singapore-bound designated VTL-Land bus services will use Larkin Sentral Bus Terminal as the boarding and disembarkation point in Malaysia, whereas Queen Street Terminal is the boarding and disembarkation point in Singapore.

Travellers allowed to take part in this scheme are Malaysia and Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents as well as holders of Malaysia and Singapore Long-term Pass.

The launch of the VTL-Land also coincides with the VTL-Air.

The VTL-Air between Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport was announced on Nov 8.

Malaysia and Singapore have achieved more than 95% rate of the vaccinated adult population and this has offered opportunities for both countries to reopen the land border in a gradual, safe, systematic, and sustainable manner. - Bernama

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