JOHOR BARU, Nov 20 — The Johor government’s plan to build a new bridge to Singapore is separate from initiatives to revive Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s proposed replacement for the ageing Causeway, according to Abdul Hakim Ab Rahman.
The press secretary to Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian told Malay Mail that the state project is aimed to ease the increasing traffic congestion that is taxing the two existing crossings.
“The Johor state government’s planned third crossing is to address the issue of traffic congestions at both the Causeway in Johor Baru and the Second Link Crossing in Tanjung Kupang.
“Both land crossings have seen a marked increase in vehicle traffic over the years and the state government’s proposal for a third bridge is a long-term solution to manage the issue,” he said.
Abdul Hakim said he has been authorised by the MB to speak to the press and clarify questions regarding the proposed state project.
There has been much confusion over the next Johor-Singapore link after Putrajaya chimed in — reigniting talk that Dr Mahathir would finally get his “crooked bridge” to replace the 95-year-old Causeway.
The prime minister suggested Malaysia build a curved bridge to replace its side of the Causeway shortly before he left office in 2003, which was derided as the bridge to nowhere when Singapore then led by Goh Chok Tong rejected the idea.
Osman supported calls to bring back the “crooked bridge” last month. His most recent reported remarks that his state government’s next link could be “crooked” or otherwise conflated the two bridges into one; it took another twist when he expressed his hope for construction to begin as early as next year.
But Abdul Hakim clarified that the state government’s planned third bridge is a separate project from Dr Mahathir’s “crooked bridge” idea for the Causeway.
Talk of the third bridge started in end August when Osman said his state government is keen to link Pengerang on Johor’s south-east with Singapore’s Pulau Ubin.
After that, several other locations were suggested, including Pasir Gudang and Pontian, the latter to Johor’s south-west.
The idea was to create alternative routes for heavy and commercial vehicles and by doing so, redirect traffic to either side the state’s flanks and free the Causeway and the Second Link for lighter vehicles.
Abdul Hakim said the third bridge is only at the planning state, adding that it would take another two to three years before construction can start.
He explained that the currently, the state government has to identify where to build the third crossing.
“For the time being, the state government is looking at three possible locations in the state which is in Pasir Gudang, Pengerang and Pontian.
“The state government will need to also conduct a cost-benefit research on the strategic advantages that all three possible locations have,” he said, adding that the process requires getting input from the agencies involved as well as the public.
Only after that can a tender be called.
At present, Johor has two gazetted land checkpoints: the Causeway in the city centre and the Second Link crossing in Tanjung Kupang.
More than 50,000 vehicles use the two crossings daily in what can be described as one of the region’s busiest border crossings.
The traffic figure rises on weekends when Singaporean motorists flock to Johor Baru to shop and for R&R, taking advantage of the lower ringgit which gives them more bang for their buck.