Mailbox: Chaotic commute ruining Iskandar dream

Mailbox: Chaotic commute ruining Iskandar dream

Two years ago, I moved my family from Singapore to Nusajaya, Johor. This improved our standard of living and allowed us to have the kind of lifestyle we could never afford in Singapore.

Even the daily commute to Singapore was of little problem. I could leave my home at 8am and be at my office in Raffles Place by 8.45am.

This changed three months ago. Following the security breaches at Woodlands Checkpoint and the subsequent tightening of checks by the Singapore authorities, the checkpoint in Tuas has been left in chaos.

A commute that used to take 45 minutes can now take from 1½ hours to three hours, as many motorists seem to have diverted their route from Woodlands to Tuas.

In all fairness, the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority officers in Tuas are trying new measures to ease traffic, but their efforts have been overwhelmed by the sheer number of vehicles.

The Iskandar project is of vital importance to the long-term success of not just Malaysia but also Singapore. But since it was started, nothing has been done to improve transport links to Singapore.

There is no plan for additional transit links until 2019 at the earliest, when the Johor rapid transit system will be completed.

If nothing is done to improve transport links soon, the Iskandar project will fall flat on its face long before any mass transit system reaches Johor. Some people are already looking to sell their properties and return to Singapore.

There are several solutions that can be enacted relatively quickly.

A ferry terminal was opened in Puteri Harbour last year, but not a single ferry to Singapore operates from it. Commuter ferry services between Puteri Harbour and HarbourFront could make a difference, although the advertised journey time of 1½ hours is far from ideal.

A small Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex near Raffles Marina could allow for a water taxi service linking up with the Tuas MRT extension, or even just a bus and taxi stand to get people into the city.

Perhaps the simplest solution is to deploy more passport officers on both sides of the border. A few more passport control booths open earlier in the morning could make the morning commute far more bearable.

If funding is an issue, the tolls could be increased. I think most Iskandar residents would be willing to pay a bit more for a shorter morning commute.

Simon James

This article was first published on June 05, 2014.
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