JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - With less than a week to the expiry of the six-month deadline for Malaysia to decide whether it will proceed with the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) project, many people in Johor are anxious about the final outcome.
The traffic snarls at the Johor Causeway and Second Link are worsening, especially with the increasing volume of vehicles using both links, and during weekends and public holidays.
At present, more than 367,000 people use the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complexes daily, with 254,000 people using the Johor Baru side, while 113,000 people use the Second Link.
A motorist, who only wanted to be known as Tan, who travels to Singapore daily for work, hoped that Malaysia would give the nod to the project, as the traffic jams during peak hours were getting worse.
Another driver, Kavitha, who carpools to Singapore daily, has to wake up as early as 4am.
"Sometimes we are stuck for one hour in the jam and it can easily stretch longer when accidents happen," she said, adding that traffic at the CIQ was unpredictable.
Both Malaysia and Singapore signed a bilateral agreement last year to build the 4km cross-border MRT link from Woodlands in Singapore to Bukit Chagar in Johor to help alleviate congestion at the Causeway.
But the two countries in May agreed to suspend work on the RTS link until Sept 30. Malaysia hoped to find new ways to reduce the cost of the RTS, including getting the private sector to fund and operate it.
Meanwhile, Stulang assemblyman Andrew Chen hoped that the project could proceed, as the number of people using the CIQ was increasing each year.
"In December 2017, both CIQs were handling 279,000 people daily. Now in May, the number has increased by 31 per cent to 357,000 people per day. I expect this figure to continue to rise and maybe Johor Baru CIQ alone may touch 300,000 people daily by the end of the year," he said, adding that the RTS would definitely ease traffic congestion along the Causeway.
He said that despite the Immigration Department's move to increase personnel, he still received complaints about the jams, especially during public holidays.
For Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim, the RTS was important, as many of his constituents were wasting time being caught in jams at the Causeway.
"I hope there will be no further delays in the implementation of the project which will benefit the people," he said, adding that Johor is a gateway to Malaysia and efforts must be made to improve its connectivity.
Mr Hassan said that he, too, was worried about the future of the RTS project.
"I hope the Federal Government will not let us down," he said.