Move to ease congestion at Johor checkpoints

JOHOR BARU - Discussions are taking place between the Johor government and the state Immigration Department on ways to resolve the infamous congestion at the Johor Causeway Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex and the Second Link Crossing in Tanjung Kupang, Gelang Patah.

State executive councillor for tourism Datuk Tee Siew Kiong said the Johor authorities were well aware of the plight and grouses of those who used the entry and exit points connecting Malaysia and Singapore.

The congestions, he said, had persisted for many years.

"The Immigration Department will hire more staff to be placed at both checkpoints, improve infrastructure and open all lanes during peak hours and holiday seasons," he said at a press conference at the launch of Visit Malaysia Year 2014 at the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Qua­rantine complex (CIQ) here on Wednesday.

Tee said that 10.2 million vehicles and 38.2 million visitors passed through the causeway in 2011. The number jumped to 11 million vehicles and 51.5 million visitors the following year.

"Up to October last year, we recorded 9.6 million vehicles and 19.8 million visitors using the Causeway," he said, adding that the figures reflected the severity of the congestion at the Causeway.

Tee also said that Johor needed 11,550 new hotel rooms from now until 2017, as the existing 14,450 rooms were insufficient in meeting the needs of domestic and foreign visitors to Johor.

He said the opening of Legoland Theme Park Malaysia, Puteri Harbour Indoor Family Theme Park in Nusajaya and Johor Premium Outlets (JPO) in Kulaijaya in recent years had boosted the state tourism industry.

"Work is already taking place in Desaru in Kota Tinggi to position and develop it as a leading tourism hub in the southern region with world class hotels and water theme parks," said Tee.

The opening of the Freeport Retail Outlet in Malacca, offering discounted branded fashion items next year, would not be a threat to JPO as both catered for different segments of shoppers, he said.