Johor Bahru, Malaysia – The Johor state government plans to submit a request to the Johor Public Transport Corporation (PAJ) to provide bus services for travellers from Malaysia crossing the Causeway to Singapore on foot.
Johor Immigration Department director Baharuddin Tahir said that about 300 people had crossed the border to enter Malaysia through the Causeway between 7am and 9.30am.
Those who were not travelling via cars or private vehicles had to walk across the 1km-long Causeway on foot, dragging their luggage as presently there is no public transport or shuttle buses services available.
It was reported that this group of travellers from Johor Bahru to Singapore took one to two hours to clear immigration procedures and cross the border.
State Public Works, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Mohd Solihan Badri said that bus services would ease the travelling for those who have to walk across the border.
He added that a discussion would be held to ensure the provision of the services did not breach any rules.
“We saw several groups of pedestrians carrying their bags on the Johor Causeway today. We sympathise (with their situation and) we will make a request to PAJ to provide bus services to the border of Singapore, with approval from the authorities,” noted Mr Solihan.
At the same time, he said, the buses could also ferry travellers entering Malaysia.
“We will use a small coach bus so that it will be able to make U-turns on the Causeway,” added Mr Solihan.
On Sunday (16 Aug), Malaysian Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong noted that he would refer to the Land Public Transport Agency (APAD) if public transportation needs to be deployed, given that not every traveller has a car.
Mr Wee added that this should be subject to the established standard operating procedures.
“APAD will monitor the situation. We (Malaysia-Singapore) are together in this. If there is a need (for public transportation), we will provide them, we are aware that not everyone has a car,” he asserted.
Considerations include if there is sufficient demand maximising the public transportation, otherwise it would “incur losses to operate”.
“It will involve costs if public transportation is to operate and if not many are using them this will incur losses. So, we need to strategise, plan carefully to ensure a win-win situation,” the Minister remarked.
Before the COVID-19 restrictions, more than 300,000 people travelled across the Causeway daily, making it one of the busiest overland border crossings in the region.