Should Singapore and Malaysia be connected with a third link bridge?
That is the question Malaysia now wants to find out in earnest as it continues to fiddle with the idea about building a new land crossing, despite how Singapore feels on this matter.
Comprehensive research to be carried out
According to Malay Mail, Malaysia's home minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Sunday, Dec. 1 that a comprehensive research will have to be carried out first.
The purpose is to figure out a third link's necessity in alleviating traffic congestion going into Johor.
It is an interesting development because the message appears to be geared towards Malaysia's domestic audience.
Currently, more than 450,000 people enter and exit Singapore from Johor via both the Causeway and Tuas Second Link on a daily basis.
But don't expect Malaysia to do anything anytime soon -- or for Singapore to register its interest in the project.
At the moment, construction of a 4km-rail Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link between Woodlands North station on Singapore’s Thomson-East Coast MRT line to Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru has been agreed upon.
Earliest start of study in 2020
However, Muhyiddin indicated that the Malaysian government can only start on the “holistic research” early-2020 when there are funds available.
A decision will likely be reached only after October -- some 10 months or more away.
Malay Mail said Muhyiddin told reporters after chairing a committee meeting on the congestion issue at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex in Johor Baru: “The research is expected to cost about RM5 million (S$1.64 million) and would take about nine months to be completed.”
He also said Putrajaya has to approve the proposal first.
Any bilateral discussion with Singapore can only take place after that.
More pressing issue: Increasing personnel
Another more pressing area that can be improved upon is to increase the number of personnel at both CIQ facilities, Muhyiddin added.
But he said this proposal "will only be decided by the Public Service Department".
Keep going back to land crossings
Increasing the number of crossings between Singapore and Malaysia have been mooted before.
The idea was to free up the Causeway and Tuas Second Link for lighter vehicles, while heavy goods and cargo vehicles can use the new crossing.
Former Johor chief minister Osman Sapian previously said the state government wanted to connect Johor’s south-east Pengerang with Singapore’s Pulau Ubin -- an ambitious rendering of a land crossing.
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