Three bridges to JB would ease travel woes

The report last Thursday ("'JB can be Malaysia's second-biggest city'") brings hope of a brighter future for both Malaysia and Singapore.

During the Mahathir era, the relationship between the two countries was somewhat acrimonious.

When Datuk Seri Najib Razak took over as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, the KTM railway land issue was quickly resolved.

Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar has been a great admirer of Singapore, and he even recommended that Malaysia bring the English language back into the school system, instead of having Malay-, Chinese- and Tamil-language primary schools, as he believes that it would bring about a more united Malaysian society ("Johor Sultan slams Malaysia's multi-stream schools"; Dec 29, 2015).

Malaysia is Singapore's second-largest trading partner after China.

We are linked to Malaysia via the Tuas Second Link and the Causeway but, in the coming years, the traffic will worsen.

Sultan Ibrahim's suggestion of replacing the Causeway with a bridge is worthy of consideration.

We have a large piece of land bounded by the Johor Strait, Sungei Mandai, Woodlands Road and Sungei Mandai Kechil.

This piece of empty land could be developed into an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority checkpoint, and the old Woodlands checkpoint developed into a bridge that links to the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex at the Sultan Iskandar Building.

We could also have a third bridge, from Pasir Gudang in Johor, that connects to Pulau Punggol Barat, as the Johor Strait is narrowest at this point.

This bridge could be developed first before the Causeway is demolished.

Many economists have long contended that both countries should capitalise on each other's comparative advantages to continue growing their economies.

If we have three bridges in future, then travelling between the two countries would be a breeze.

Heng Cho Choon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2016, with the headline 'Three bridges to JB would ease travel woes'. Print Edition | Subscribe