Sunday, November 19, 2006

Reposting: Useful Causeway?

The causeway continues to be clogged with monster traffic. Mom and dad went to the border city of Johor Baru for an emergency following the sudden hospitalisation of grandpa last week. But they were caught in a massive traffic jam at 10pm. The volume of motor cycles and cars returning to JB at the end of each of working day was simply too overwhelming.

Fortunately, immigration checks didn't take too long after a one-hour jam, which is quite a short wait compared to other days. Must thank the two governments for making life easier for residents of the two countries?

Can we really expect the leaders of the two countries to understand the hardship undergone by regular users of the causeway? Have they really gone through the gridlock regularly in the first place? Please see earlier postings on issues linked to the causeway.

Apart from making immigration check smoother on both sides of the causeway, the idea of a new and wider bridge to replace the causeway simply cannot be dismissed. The old causeway was simply not designed to help the massive cross-border flow of people -- Singaporeans and Malaysians.

The Singapore government has not felt any urgency to resolve the long-standing problem posed by the 83-year-old causeway ever since former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad mooted the bridge project in 1996. In fact, Singapore's position has always been that the causeway has continued to be useful, and there is no need to replace it with an overhead bridge, which would have allowed water to flow freely in the dirty straits.

As usual, Singapore won't react unless its narrow interest is at stake. And the traffic woes and roadworks at the Malaysian end of the causeway have finally caught the attention of Singapore's lawmakers.

Business Times - 15 Nov 2006
Diversion of Causeway traffic will affect S'pore
ANY diversion of traffic from the Causeway to the Second Link caused by Malaysia's proposed closing of the Causeway to heavy vehicles will have material implications for Singapore, Transport Minister Raymond Lim said yesterday in Parliament.

Mr Lim was responding to a question by MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC Wee Siew Kim, who had asked for an update on an announcement by the Malaysian government in August that the Causeway would be closed to heavy vehicles from Malaysia so as to facilitate the construction of a new road.

'Naturally, we are concerned about this development, since any diversion of traffic from the Causeway to the Second Link will have material implications for Singapore,' Mr Lim said.

"In particular, we have concerns over the possible impact of the proposal on traffic and checkpoint operations at the Second Link and the Causeway, as well as the economic costs,' he added.

However, Mr Lim said that the government would need more details on the proposed diversion to assess the full impact on Singapore. 'We have already requested from the Malaysians further details on the proposed diversion,' Mr Lim said.

Malaysia's rather cool response to Singapore as reported in The Star today:

Sunday November 19, 2006
Singapore to get enough notice on diversion

SUNGAI SIPUT: Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu has reassured Singapore that Malaysia would give sufficient notice on when it would temporarily divert heavy vehicles from the Causeway to the Second Link.

Addressing concerns raised by Singapore’s Transport Ministry, Samy Vellu said the Government was still discussing the logistics with various agencies.

“Once that's done, we will give the foreign and transport ministries at least two months’ notice.”

The Causeway was to have been closed to heavy vehicles to facilitate construction of a flyover linking the new Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex to the Causeway.

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