Consider a bridge from Punggol to JB, or undersea tunnel

The increase in vehicular and human populations in Malaysia and Singapore points to a need for a third link ('Dire need' for third S'pore-Johor link, Oct 19).

As a regular traveller to Malaysia over the last 20 years, I have found that the time to clear both Customs checkpoints is generally smooth except on weekends and public holidays, or when the number of booths open is insufficient.

In 2003, when Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad first mooted the idea of a crooked bridge, it got a cool reception from the Singapore Government.

His successors Abdullah Badawi and Najib Razak were not in favour of the idea and it remained dormant for 15 years.

Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian resurrected the idea last week and if it comes to fruition, then Tun Dr Mahathir would have the dubious distinction of being the man responsible for the crooked bridge. I am not sure if Dr Mahathir would cherish such an idea if the Johor seafront is marred by this gigantic monster which would remain an eyesore for posterity.

The Penang undersea tunnel which links Butterworth to George Town is 7.2 km long and work began in 2016. On completion in 2023, the cost is expected to be RM6.3 billion (S$2 billion).

Perhaps the governments on both sides of the causeway could consider a bridge from Punggol Point to Pulau Tukang in Johor, a distance of less than 2km.

Based on my estimates, if Singapore were to foot half the bill, we would only need to pay about $200 million. This estimate is based on what it cost to build the 1.7km Sungai Johor Bridge which was completed in 2011. It is part of the Senai-Desaru Expressway, estimated to have cost about RM1.46 billion to build then.

Early this year, Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan announced that the Rapid Transit System Link between Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru and Woodlands North would be ready by 2024.

While the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project is now on hold.

I hope Singapore will consider a third bridge or an undersea tunnel to boost ties between the two countries and to improve the connectivity of our countries.

Heng Cho Choon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2018, with the headline 'Consider a bridge from Punggol to JB, or undersea tunnel'. Print Edition | Subscribe