The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents’ (MATTA) appeal for a tour bus lane to be re-introduced at the Second Link, which connects Gelang Patah in Malaysia and Tuas in Singapore, has been met with support from both ends of the causeway.
The bridge was built as an alternative route for travellers and to reduce the traffic congestion at the Johor–Singapore Causeway. However, commuting on the bridge includes heavy traffic in the morning and evening time, and sees particularly bad traffic congestion during festive periods.
“Congestion has taken a heavy toll on commuters and tourists. Permanent solutions such as building a third bridge or rapid transit system will take many years to complete. However, operating a counter in or next to the Customs, Immigration & Quarantine Complex (CIQ Complex) to process tourists travelling in tour buses could be set up swiftly,” said MATTA’s president, KL Tan.
“This initiative may significantly reduce commuting time and attract many tourists in Singapore to cross over to Johor Bahru or up to Melaka for sightseeing or overnight stay, confident that they will return to Singapore on time for their return flight. Easing the Second Link congestion through this initiative would encourage more Singaporeans to travel by tour buses to explore the east and west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.”
Agreeing, Raaj Navaratnaa, general manager at New Asia Holiday, Tours & Travel, said congestion on the causeway could cost Malaysia the opportunity to attract both Singaporeans and visitors to Singapore who intend to extend their holidays in Malaysia.
Arokia Das, senior manager at Luxury Tours Malaysia, urged for immediate action to be taken. “The CIQ Complex is (tourists’) first impression of Malaysia. Let it be a good experience. Now, you see tourists queuing outside, exposed to the heat and rain, as they wait their turn to go through customs.”
This is a problem for agents in Singapore as well. “The Second Link is seeing even worse jams in the past two months, since it’s a major holiday in China. Large tour buses carrying Chinese tourists from Singapore into Malaysia are crowding up the causeway,” said Elson Yap, managing director of TranStar Travel, who likewise felt that tour bus lanes would be a “big help”.
However, Joe Lim, executive director of Singapore’s Konsortium Express and Tours, cautioned that simply installing a special lane and counter may not be enough to alleviate the long waiting queues at the Customs.
“You often see many counters, but only two or three are manned,” he said. “The authorities should look into having the counters fully staffed – this would help improve the flow of the crowds.”
Source : TTG Asia