Thumbs-up for 'Friendship bridge'

WELCOME PROPOSAL: Proposed link will benefit Malaysia and Singapore, say leaders

JOHOR BARU: THE proposed plan to build a Malaysia-Singapore “Friendship Bridge” has received the thumbs up from both sides as it will strengthen close ties between the two countries.

    The proposed bridge is also expected to further spur the economic growth of Iskandar Malaysia which encompasses south Johor.

    Community leaders and members of the public welcomed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's proposal to build the bridge.

    Johor Tourism, Domestic Trade and Consumerism Committee chairman Datuk Tee Siew Kiong said such a bridge would boost tourism in Johor as it would make travel between the two countries easier.

    "At the moment, visitors travelling through the Causeway spend a lot of time at the checkpoint because of the heavy traffic there. Last year, more than 100 million people used the Causeway to travel between Johor and Singapore," said Tee.

   He said with the building of the bridge, visitors would spend more time in Johor instead of spending time to clear the immigration checkpoint.

   "This would definitely attract more visitors from Singapore to come to Johor," he said.

   Pulai member of parliament Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, whose constituency borders Singapore, said the proposed third bridge will definitely boost economic activity between the two countries.

   “This will definitely enhance economic activity between Malaysia and Singapore, as well as being beneficial for the Iskandar Malaysia economic growth region,” he said when contacted yesterday.

   Nur Jazlan, who also organises parliamentary-level business programmes between Johoreans and Singaporeans, said plans for the third bridge will be a welcome boost for both parties.

   “If the proposed third bridge goes as planned, Johor will be easily accessed via land from Singapore and vice-versa through three locations.”

   Nur Jazlan said a third bridge would also ease traffic flow at the Causeway and the Second Link.

   He hoped Malaysians, especially Johoreans, will view the proposed third bridge in a positive manner as both countries can stand to benefit from it.

   Nusajaya assemblyman Dr Zaini Abu Bakar also welcomed the plan.

   “The bridge would improve access and connectivity between Johor and Singapore.

   “There are a lot of people in Johor who work in Singapore. The building of the bridge would make it easier for them to commute between the two countries,” said Dr Zaini.

   He said the bridge would also bring bilateral economic benefits for both countries in the long term.

     Johor-based businessman Chow Weng Chuan said the proposed bridge is a good move as both entry and exit points between the two countries have seen an increase in traffic over the past few years.

  “I travel about four times a week to Singapore for business and at times it takes more than an hour to go through the checkpoints at the Second Link,” said the 27-year-old who deals in recreational products.

  However, Chow pointed out that the location of the proposed bridge needs to be studied in detail by both countries before implementation.

  He said its location needs to benefit Johoreans as well as Singaporeans and at the same time to also complement the two existing links to Singapore.

  Singaporean Augustine Cho, 27, said he welcomes the move for a third bridge linking the island republic to Johor as it will give Singaporeans like himself more entry and exit options.

  "I hope that the new third bridge can ease the erratic congestion at the Causeway,” he said when met in the city centre after the Causeway checkpoint yesterday.

  Cho, who frequents Johor Baru for food, also agreed that the location of the new proposed bridge is important for both parties.

  On Monday, the prime minister said that Malaysia and Singapore are looking into a proposal to build a “Friendship Bridge” to improve road connectivity as well as to further enhance bilateral relations between the two countries.

  Last December, Najib and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei opened a 60m-long “Friendship Bridge” across Sungai Pandaruan that separated Brunei's Temburong district and Sarawak's Limbang district.