The new CIQ complex at Johor Bahru was opened for business on the 16th of last month. To date, I've passed through the complex twice on my way to and from Singapore.
It is quite a large complex and on first impression, there seems to be ample traffic lanes to handle the huge volume of vehicles that pass through this border checkpoint. However, the true test of the handling capacity can only be seen during peak holiday periods. The one coming up next is the Chinese New Year holidays. Let's see then if the expected congestion can be handled smoothly.
With the opening of the complex, traffic to and from Singapore no longer pass through the centre of Johor Bahru city. This relieves some of the congestion in the city centre but I foresee that the build-up of traffic would be transferred elsewhere. Vehicular access to the checkpoint is via the Middle Ring Road. While this particular road is relatively new and quite wide (3 lanes at most parts), it joins other main feeder and distributor roads such as the very busy Jalan Tebrau. One congestion spot that I predict is the interchange junction between MRR and Jalan Tebrau, near the Traffic Police Headquarters.
The route from MRR into the complex is well planned and marked-out but the route from the complex onto the Causeway is a bit long-winded. This is because the original plan of constructing a bridge was aborted. Toll payments at this new CIQ complex can only be made using Touch N Go cards. Sorry... cash is no longer accepted.
Another new ruling that has come into force is that no more pedestrians are allowed. This means that you can no longer travel on the Causeway on foot. The Star Online reported on this story last Sunday -> here.
I think it is a pity that our authorities (note : this rule was enforced by the Malaysian side) do not allow pedestrians. Many people opt to cross the border on foot because, when there is a congestion, it is faster to walk than take the public transport. I have done this myself a number of times... see my earlier post -> here.
The reason given by the authorities is that it is dangerous for the pedestrians. There is no specific footpath or walkway for people who prefer to walk. Well... unfortunately, the new checkpoint was not designed with pedestrians in mind. This, I think, is a serious flaw. Walking, apart from being good exercise, is an environmental-friendly approach in reducing congestion.
Alas, no more walks on the Johor Causeway...
Update 11.01.09 :
Today's The Star Online carries a report quoting Home Minister Dato' Seri Syed Hamid Albar that a designated route for pedestrians should have been built. Since the Immigration Department is under his Ministry, it is a bit surprising that the Home Minister only knows about this now. Nonetheless, I hope the people in higher positions look into this matter seriously.
Read the full report -> here.