To the surprise of many, the Chief Minister of the State of Johor Bahru in Malaysia is looking at getting the support of the Malaysian Federal Government to revive the construction of a new bridge across the Strait of Johor, which links Malaysia to Singapore.
Once upon the times, in the 1990s of the last century, a Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, was mulling out the idea of enlarging the main bridge linking Johor Bahru city to Singapore across the Strait of Johor, replacing a causeway built in the 1920s. The project of a new bridge became quickly an object of opposition between both Malaysia and Singapore, the latter complaining about the lack of transparency about the financing and the attribution of the construction.
PM Mahathir decided then to still go ahead with the construction, approving the design of a bridge which would then make a curve to merge into the current bridge on the Singapore side. Mahathir resigned at the end of 2003 and the idea of the ‘crooked bridge’ was them abandoned by the next Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi.
12 years have passed and Mahathir has surprisingly been elected again Prime Minister of Malaysia at age 92. And so is the ‘Crooked Bridge’ again a hot topic in Malaysia.
Presenting the budget for the State of Johor, Johor Chief Minister Osman Sapian highlighted on Monday that among new infrastructures supported by the State was a bridge linking Johor Bahru and Singapore.
“The bridge could be crooked or straight, but it would be a reality,” declared Johor Chief Minister on Monday to local media. “The construction might take place next year and it may or may not be crooked as we have yet to finalise the design,” he added.
Johor Chief Minister hopes that works could start in 2019 with the infrastructure being achieved before 2023, the year the Causeway bridge will celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Upgrading the causeway is effectively an urgent task. One of the most used border checkpoint in the world with an estimated number of over 100 million commuters and some 126,000 vehicles registered each year (including busses), the causeway is one of the most crowded bridge in the world with traffic jam being a common feature. On week-ends, cars can queue for up to two hours just to cross the one-kilometer long bridge.
Singapore already indicated not to have officially informed of any new bridge’s proposal. 15 years ago, PM Mahathir by then indicated to be able to build the bridge without Singapore consent. Back to the future?