Extend operating hours of Causeway, plead Malaysian truckers

While the Second Link is open for 24 hours daily, the Causeway operates for only 12 hours between 7am and 7pm. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Truckers are hoping for both the Malaysian and the Singaporean governments to extend the operating hours at the Causeway to ease traffic congestion.

Johor Trucking Association president Novan Hing said while the Second Link is open for 24 hours daily, the Causeway operates for only 12 hours between 7am and 7pm.

He said despite the Causeway and Second Link being open for trucks and lorries since Malaysia's movement control order (MCO) in March last year, traffic congestion remains a major problem.

"Operating hours at the Causeway have been reduced to only 12 hours daily since April last year as fewer vehicles are using the bridge due to the MCO and the circuit breaker measure in Singapore.

"However, since September, the number of trucks and lorries using both the Causeway and Second Link has increased significantly due to a rise in business transactions.

"We believe that the number could be as high or even higher than pre-pandemic times as Chinese New Year approaches, " he told reporters at a virtual press conference on Friday (Jan 29).

Lorry and truck drivers, he claimed, were recently forced to endure a long wait lasting seven to 10 hours on the Second Link due to the heavy congestion.

"The recent congestion on the Second Link between Jan 26 and 28 was a perfect storm due to a number of reasons.

"This included a nine-hour system down time on the side of the Malaysian Customs, an increase in enforcement by the Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services (Maqis) and Singapore's introduction of rapid testing for Covid-19 or the antigen reactive test (ART) for all commercial vehicles.

"This is coupled with the traditional surge in transactions due to the approaching festive season," he said, adding that this caused perishable items carried by the lorries to go bad and result in losses.

"The consignors and consignees on both ends of the border were forced to endure long anxious waits for the arrival of their cargos.

"Truck operators as well as businesses that are dependent on these operators had to answer to a long list of enquiries from those waiting for their cargos," he said, adding that drivers are getting increasingly frustrated with the situation.

Congestion on both bridges, said Mr Hing, could be eased only if the authorities of both countries resume the 24-hour operation of the Causeway.

"We also hope that the authorities could provide assistance to the drivers on the road who have to endure the long wait, including providing mobile toilets for those stuck for as long as 10 hours.

"In the long run, we hope that the Malaysian authorities could find a way to resolve the bottlenecks near its Customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) complexes, which have been ongoing for years," he said.

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