We don’t need more bridges to Singapore, says transport expert

25-Mar-2019 Intellasia | FMT | 6:00 AM Print This Post

A transportation expert has poured cold water on a proposal to build more bridges linking Malaysia and Singapore, saying better traffic flow can be achieved by means of mass transit options.

Rosli Azad Khan, a consultant with over 40 years’ of experience in transportation planning, was referring to Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s recent remark that three to four more bridges linking the two nations were needed.

The prime minister said this would facilitate better traffic flow, adding that compared with Penang, which is mulling a third link to the mainland, traffic flow to and from Singapore was “much bigger”.

But Rosli said while it would seem to make sense that having more bridges would ease traffic on the Causeway and the Second Link the two land connections with Singapore this would not be the case.

“Singapore does not want more traffic as its road network cannot cope anymore.

“It would not want to expand its road network capacity to cater to more traffic. That is not its long-term strategy. But it would not mind more passengers or workers who travel there by MRT, KTM (Keretapi Tanah Melayu) or by ferry,” he said.

Rosli told FMT there was already a KTM rail line linking Johor and Singapore that was underutilised and not achieving its “full potential”. He suggested linking this with the Woodlands MRT.

He said ferries could also be introduced to take up to several hundred passengers per crossing in a journey that would take about five or six minutes from stops such as Danga Bay, Permas Jaya, Pasir Gudang, Kong Kong and Pengerang.

“Ferry services will not only reduce travelling time but also cut down access and waiting time as well as provide a cheaper alternative to travelling by car or motorcycle.

“Because the distance is very short, a high-frequency service can easily be achieved, with added capacity during peak periods, similar to the MRT or KTM train services.”

Rosli said the plan could be carried out with minimal cost and Singapore would “very likely” accept the idea compared with a proposal for bridges.

Mahathir, in his first stint as prime minister, had mooted the idea of a “crooked bridge” to link Singapore and Johor a six-lane highway that would curve in a way that would allow vessels to pass under it.

But his two successors, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Razak, did not see the suggestion through, despite Mahathir announcing that Malaysia would build its own half of the crooked bridge.

“We have to think in terms of moving people across, not moving vehicles,” Rosli said, adding that the Causeway had become a bottleneck for regular commuters.

He said the main cause of congestion on the Causeway was because Malaysia was not looking at finding ways to solve problems faced by commuters based in Johor but who work in Singapore.

Johor Tourism Association chair Jimmy Leong also proposed looking into more “advanced” methods of facilitating mass movement of people, saying this had to be a priority for Putrajaya.

“The more efficient the manner in which the crowd is being cleared, the easier it will be clearing commuters at the checkpoints,” he told FMT.

Leong said: “This is a problem that started decades ago and, despite the anticipation of movement of commuters then, nothing was done.

“If both countries need to ‘complement’ each other, then the need to resolve this must be made a priority. Visitors are experiencing nightmares just crossing the border.

“Do the authorities know what it’s like waiting for five to eight hours to get clearance to enter? This is not one to two hours but five to eight. One would have arrived in Tokyo by air,” he said.

Finance minister Lim Guan Eng has supported Mahathir’s proposal for additional bridges with Singapore but said any such suggestion would require agreement from their Singaporean counterparts.

Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian, on the other hand, had last year said there were plans to widen the pathway of the Causeway to create pedestrian walkways and allow more feeder buses to shuttle people.



Category: Singapore

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