by Foong Swee Fong
Ever since the Johor Mentri Besar, Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi, “visited” the immigration booths at the Causeway and the Second Link, the Malaysian side of the perennial traffic jam, has more or less, disappeared.
I drove to Johor Bahru (JB) last Thursday afternoon. There was a 25-minute jam on the Singapore side, while the JB side was smooth flowing. Quite a few booths were closed at the former, while all booths were green at the latter.
The same scenario played out on my return trip in the evening – smooth-flowing traffic at JB as all booths were green, while I endured a 30-minute jam on the Singapore side. I noticed that one whole lane on the right side of the complex consisting of about ten booths, was closed.
As I am writing this, the Beat the Jam app is showing red on the Singapore side and green on the JB side, in both directions.
This has been the general trend since around Hari Raya when a video of the Mentri Besar surfaced showing him pointing to the booths that were closed and admonishing someone, presumably a senior at the customs department, that “It’s not fair to the Rakyat”.
The Mentri Besar has shown that it isn’t rocket science to solve the perennial traffic jam at the crossings – just ensure that all the booths are open. Why can’t the Singapore side do that all the time?
One reason might just be that there is no incentive for the Singapore government to keep traffic free-flowing, unlike the case for the Malaysian government, as more Singaporeans would then be spending their money up north and boosting the Malaysian economy, rather than ours.
The perennial jam, in fact, is the perfect ploy to deter Singaporeans from driving north as it is painful and yet not of the government’s, but the people’s doing.
But given the exchange rate and the high cost of living, and the lack of space here, can we blame the people? And is it fair to them if the government is dragging its feet and wasting their time, intentionally?
This was first published on Foong Swee Fong’s Facebook page and reproduced with permission.