Easing causeway commutes


COME June 28 this year, the Causeway, which is known as one of the world’s busiest land crossing, will mark its 100th anniversary since its official opening.

The 1.05KM Causeway connected Johor Baru city in Malaysia and Woodlands in the island republic where it combined railway and motorway as well as water pipeline between the two countries.

It was also the only land connection between Malaysia and Singapore before the opening of Second Link in Iskandar Puteri in 1998.

The reign of Almarhum Sultan Sir Abu Bakar Ibni Almarhum Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim, who is known as the father of modern Johor, had turned the state into a top gambier and black pepper producer in the late 1800s.

The two items were in demand in Europe and China where with Singapore having a port, it would make it easier for Johor to export its gambier and black pepper to the world.

But as there was no Causeway and even a bridge linking Johor and Singapore at the time, the state relied heavily on small boats to ferry the exported items across the Johor Straits.

This made the Johor Straits to be congested with the presence of many boats causing many problems for the state in wanting to move gambier and pepper in a faster and orderly way into Singapore with demand increasing.

In 1917, the British proposed to the Johor government during the reign of the state second ruler, Almarhum Sultan Sir Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Sir Abu Bakar to build a causeway between Johor Baru and Singapore.

The plan was approved two years later where on April 24, 1920, a ceremony was held to mark the laying of the foundation stone for the Causeway.

The construction period took four years to be completed before the Causeway was officially opened on June 28, 1924.

However, the Causeway did see some dark moments in its history as it was bombed by the British army hoping to delay the advancement of the Japanese army during the Second World War in 1942.

The Covid-19 pandemic also affected thousands of daily travellers between Malaysia and Singapore when the Malaysian government closed its international borders causing the Causeway and Second Link to shut down on March 18, 2020.

With the situation on Covid-19 pandemic easing, both Malaysia and Singapore governments eased travelling restrictions before lifting it completely on April 1, 2022.

Muhd Alif said working in Singapore has helped him to provide a better future for his young family.Muhd Alif said working in Singapore has helped him to provide a better future for his young family.

For father of two Muhd Alif Omar, 30, working in Singapore for about six years now, has helped him to provide a better future for his young family.

“To me, the Causeway is more than a bridge linking two countries that share so many similarities.

“For me and thousands of Malaysians working in Singapore, the Causeway represents a way for us to provide a better and stable future for our family,” he said.

Muhd Alif added that prior to working in Singapore, he was working in Johor but it could not provide him a better future which is why he decided to find a job in the island republic.

He said after crossing the Causeway into Singapore, he immediately went from one location to another hoping to land a job as soon as possible.

“I got a job working at an American sandwich fast food company and I was really happy. But then Covid happened and the border was shut down causing me to lose my job.

“Despite such setback, I was still determined to find another job there and luckily enough, I was able to get employment at an aerospace factory in Singapore till this day,” he said.

Say said that go to Singapore at least once a month to visit her sister who has been staying there for more than 15 years now.Say said that go to Singapore at least once a month to visit her sister who has been staying there for more than 15 years now.

Meanwhile, accountant Say See Qian, 40, said that she would drive into Singapore at least once a month to visit her sister who has been staying there for more than 15 years now.

“Actually, the traffic situation at the Malaysian side of the border is getting better compared to several years ago and this is because of Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi.

“His constant checks at both Bangunan Sultan Iskandar (BSI) and Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar (KSAB) Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) have helped ease traffic congestion going into Causeway and Second Link,” she said.

Amrish Adrin Johan, 35, said that easing traffic flow from Johor into Singapore has helped make it easier for Malaysians working there.

“We can see things are improving on the Malaysian side of the border where immigration clearance is getting faster and easier.

“Sometimes there is some congestion but it was not as bad compared to before Covid-19 times where people would be stuck for long hours at the Causeway waiting to go back home,” he said.

Amrish said that easing traffic flow from Johor into Singapore has helped make it easier for Malaysians working there.Amrish said that easing traffic flow from Johor into Singapore has helped make it easier for Malaysians working there.

Johor works, transportation, infrastructure and communication committee chairman Mohamad Fazli Mohamad Salleh said that the Causeway has always played an important role in economic development for Johor.

He added that there were thousands of Malaysians that travelled daily into Singapore for work where it is the state government’s priority to ease their travels.

Mohamad Fazli added that last year, an average of 250,000 daily travellers have been recorded travelling between Malaysia and Singapore via the Causeway.

He said this showed that the number of daily travellers have surpassed the figure recorded during pre-Covid 19 period and would go even higher during holidays.

“In order to address the congestion issue at the two lane borders especially at the Causeway, the Johor government has set up a special committee to discuss measures and proposals to reduce congestion at both entrances to the country.

“Various methods and coordination of various agencies are seen to reduce the time required to cross the Causeway, among those that have been implemented is the Touch ‘n Go counter and road charge (RC) entry from Singapore have been consolidated.

“The addition of a motorcycle lane and the addition of counters have also been made to reduce time,” he said adding that intermediate buses to take passengers to Singapore have also been added to reduce the overflow of passengers waiting for buses at the Malaysian side.

Mohamad Fazli added that to reduce the issue of congestion at the Causeway, the governments in both countries were also examining several proposals including the proposal to have a ferry service connecting Johor Baru to Singapore.

He said the proposal to increase the frequency and carriage of the KTMB Shuttle Tebrau service was also under scrutiny but the effort is subject to the agreement of Singapore, which also faces several constraints, among them in aspects related to immigration capacity.

“For the long term, the construction of Rapid Transit System Link (RTS), which is on track to be fully operational by Jan 1, 2027, is expected to be a major contributor in absorbing congestion on the Causeway,” he added.

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