'Run to the Customs, run to the bus, run, run, run'

Malaysian Tanusha Varatharajan, 19, who works as an electronics operator in Singapore, wakes up at 3am every day so she can get to work in Clementi using her company transport. If she misses the van, she would have to catch a bus. She returns home by
Malaysian Tanusha Varatharajan, 19, who works as an electronics operator in Singapore, wakes up at 3am every day so she can get to work in Clementi using her company transport. If she misses the van, she would have to catch a bus. She returns home by public transport.ST PHOTO: ARLINA ARSHAD

The Sunday Times joins two Malaysians as they commute to and from work in Singapore, to experience first-hand what they face crossing the Causeway.

Fresh out of school, 19-year-old Tanusha Varatharajan was thrilled when she was offered a job as an electronics operator in Singapore two months ago. She packed her bags and moved from Ipoh, in Perak, to her grandmother's house in Johor Baru, where five cousins working in the Republic also live.

But nothing prepared her for the daily battle with massive traffic jams at the Causeway.

Ms Varatharajan takes the van provided by her company to get to work in Clementi, and returns home by public bus. She prepares to return home as soon as she knocks off work around 3.50pm.

She has yet to explore Singapore sights because she is afraid it would mean getting home late.

Her journey is not too comfortable. She told The Sunday Times: "I can't go to the toilet whenever I want, I can't sleep as the bus keeps jerking, I can't tell noisy people to shut up." If she manages to get a seat on the usually packed bus, she will play games on her tablet.

Long but orderly queues for public buses heading to Larkin bus terminal in Johor Baru begin to form as early as 4pm at Kranji MRT station in Singapore. Commuters The Sunday Times spoke to said they must get on the bus by 6pm to avoid the congestion.

ADAPTING TO THE DISCOMFORT

My body was all sore on my first day of work but now I've become used to standing in the bus, and also running.

MISS TANUSHA VARATHARAJAN, on coping with the daily commute.

The 5pm bus journey taken with Ms Varatharajan was smooth and speedy, despite the need to get off twice for immigration and Customs clearance and wait for connecting buses. But it was because "the timing was good", she said.

She added that she has to take the public bus in the mornings if she wakes up late and misses her company transport. "If I come to work, I have to work overtime. If I am late by two hours, I have to make up for two hours, if I'm late by five hours, then five hours."

In the past two months, she has perfected the art of running. She said: "My body was all sore on my first day of work but now I've become used to standing in the bus, and also running."

"You must want to run, of course. Run, run to the Customs, run to the bus, run, run, run!"

Arlina Arshad

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 28, 2018, with the headline ''Run to the Customs, run to the bus, run, run, run''. Print Edition | Subscribe