Who would want to walk to Singapore, tourism body says on walkway plan

Johor is planning to build a 1.2km covered walkway for pedestrians travelling to and from Singapore. (Reuters pic)

PETALING JAYA: Plans by the Johor government to build a covered walkway across the Causeway have been met with mixed reactions, with some saying it is not the best solution to traffic congestion and others saying it will help address safety concerns.

The Malaysian Tourist Guides Council said walking across the Causeway would be the last choice for any commuter travelling to and from Johor Bahru and Woodlands.

“It would be a tiring walk, especially against the scheduled time at which they have to arrive at their destination,” its president Jimmy Leong told FMT.

Leong, who is also Johor Tourism Association chairman, said it would be better for both sides to come up with a more efficient clearance and transportation system instead of putting up a sheltered walkway which would only “take up more space”.

According to Johor’s plans, the dedicated pedestrian walkway, expected to measure some 1.2km, will be built on the existing motorcycle lane on both sides of the Causeway.

State Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation Committee chairman Mohd Solihan Badri said the project is expected to cost about RM15 million.

“We’ve found that many bus passengers are encroaching on the routes used by vehicles to beat traffic before continuing their journey by public transport when they reach the other (Singapore) side,” he said.

He added that the covered walkway is still at the proposal stage.

Singapore has welcomed the plan but says it has yet to receive any official proposal or communication.

The proposal was also panned by transport expert Rosli Azad Khan, who said it reflects “the shallow strategic thinking on the Malaysian side and a lack of class”.

He added that the walkway would not accord dignity to those who use the border crossing.

“It is a cheapskate solution as opposed to a long-term solution between two good neighbours,” he told FMT, adding that it would further inconvenience those in Johor who work in Singapore and travel back and forth regularly.

He suggested extending the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line instead, saying this would be a more permanent and effective solution to the traffic congestion on the Causeway.

An extension to the MRT services could also cater for future travel and growth between the two cities, he added.

“Another mode (of transport) that is simple, effective and offers better dignity than walking is to provide passenger ferries across the channel,” he said.

This, he said, would be the most practical and cheapest to run.

Rosli also proposed that such a project be headed by private companies rather than the government.

He claimed that Putrajaya had continuously failed to solve the problem despite having the necessary resources.

“If they looked at solving the problem rather than politicking, the people would eventually benefit and wouldn’t have to suffer as they do now,” he said.

However, the Public Transport Users Association (4PAM) said many would prefer walking as it is a faster way to cross the Causeway.

“If a proper walkway with travellators can be built, we are quite sure many would prefer this, especially those who are doing a daily commute,” 4PAM president Ajit Johl told FMT.

He said this would also address safety concerns.

“The high number of commuters who’d rather walk than get stuck in the jam – and this becomes more dangerous when it rains or with extreme heat waves – is reason enough to improve the walkways.”

Ajit added that while improving train or MRT connectivity would improve passenger comfort and might encourage people to move from walking to taking the train, this would depend on the cost of the transport.