The Causeway shut down exactly 2 years ago. What has changed since?

The Causeway on March 18, 2020 (left) and on March 18, 2022 (right).
PHOTO: One Motoring

It has been two years and down to the day that silence first descended on the usually bustling Woodlands Causeway.

Just a day before the Causeway shut normal operations on March 18, 2020, then-Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced a two-week Movement Control Order to stem the rising number of coronavirus cases.

The impending border restrictions sparked traffic jams on the roads leading up to the checkpoints as drivers and pedestrians tried to beat the lockdown that would take effect from the next day.

The roads to the Woodlands Checkpoint were gridlocked, the congestion stretching several hundred metres down the ramp, the Straits Times reported then.

Woodlands checkpoint on March 17, 2020. PHOTO: The Straits Times file

The day after – March 18, 2020 – the Causeway was nearly devoid of traffic.

Before the pandemic, about 415,000 people travelled across the Causeway and Tuas Second Link daily.

Fast forward two years later and well, nothing much has changed.

The stretch of road leading to the checkpoints remains devoid of vehicles, according to images from traffic cameras shared on the Land Transport Authority (LTA) website.

These images taken today (March 18) at 5.50pm are a stark contrast to what it was like before the Covid-19 pandemic.

View from Second Link at Tuas on March 18 at 5.50pm. PHOTO: One Motoring

That is even though travelling across the Causeway is now made possible through the Singapore-Malaysia land Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) since Nov 29 last year.

But is this eerie silence at the Causeway set to be the new normal? 

With Malaysia set to reopen its border to international travellers from April 1, traffic jams on the roads leading up to the checkpoints at Woodlands and Tuas might be making a return soon. 

And as more countries like Malaysia and Singapore are transitioning into the endemic phase, images of ghost town-like shopping malls in Johor Bahru might soon be a thing of the past.

chingshijie@asiaone.com