JOHOR BARU - The Sultan of Johor has urged the various stakeholders to mull the idea of replacing the Johor Causeway with a bridge.
Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar said he hoped Johoreans and Singaporeans could give their views on how the flow of traffic could be improved.
"I feel sorry for the thousands of Malaysians and Singaporeans who are stuck in traffic jams at the Causeway daily due to the congestion. It is worse during holidays and festive seasons.
"Also, many people are walking to Singapore daily due to the bad traffic jams," he said.
Sultan Ibrahim said that if Singapore disagreed with a tunnel, then a swing bridge could be considered.
"I am sure if you work with Singapore, they will accept as it will be a win-win situation for both countries, but you will have to give a good reason to replace the Causeway," he added.
Sultan Ibrahim pointed out that it would be meaningless if after the new connectivity, there were still jams.
"The water at the Causeway has stagnated for so many years. Both countries should put aside their differences and come up with solutions to improve mobility," he said, adding that the projects should have been completed many years ago.
He also spoke about the need for the extension of the rapid transit system (RTS) from Singapore to Johor Baru to improve connectivity.
He also urged the Malaysian Immigration Department to keep all its booths open all the time, as there were a lot of complaints that many of the booths were not open during peak hours and holidays.
On Malaysian students travelling to Singapore for better education, Sultan Ibrahim urged more international schools to be opened in Johor to allow the students to study locally.
"These days, a child's father speaks better English than their kids.
"This is worrying and alarming," he said, adding that in many developed countries, it was the other way around.
Sultan Ibrahim also said the state needed better infrastructure projects to cope with the rapid development taking place in the state, citing Pontian, where a new airport and seaport should be constructed.
He said Johor should capitalise on the rapid development taking place in the region to develop these infrastructure.
"Pontian is strategic as it is close to the Straits of Malacca, which is like a highway for vessels.
"We have to think of another airport in the future, as Senai International Airport will be congested once there is an influx of tourist arrivals," he added.
Sultan Ibrahim said the planning of these projects needed to be done carefully and without those with political agendas.
(Johor presently has four seaports, which are Johor Port, Port of Tanjung Pelepas, Tanjung Langsat Port and Pengerang Deepwater Terminal.)
"All these projects are still in the planning stages, but I foresee that this can be done," he added.
Sultan Ibrahim said that besides the infrastructure projects in Pontian, he hoped for more development in the other districts, including Kulai, which has created a niche as a data centre hub, Kota Tinggi for oil and gas projects and Mersing with its eco-tourism products.
He also stressed the need to run Johor like a business empire.
"You should also not wait for people to come to you. Go around and market Johor," he said, adding that he planned to do that with his new "gold" Boeing 737 aircraft.
He said he wanted investors to come to Johor and have a listing of what they could invest in the state.
Sultan Ibrahim added that to bring in more development, the Government must be willing to be flexible, give incentives and have a consistent policy.