Walk This Way: How Does a Covered, Air-Conditioned Stroll Across an International Border Sound?

Pedestrians crossing the border from Singapore into Johor, Malaysia | Image Credit: The Straits Times
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If multiple reports are to be believed, that could one day be the reality for the throngs of people crossing the border every day (at least before the pandemic hit) between Singapore and Malaysia. The border, said to be the world’s busiest, typically sees as many as 300,000 people a day crossing between the two countries using the Causeway and Second Link. That is a staggering number. At peak times, traffic on both routes grinds to such a nightmarish crawl, scores of frustrated commuters simply resort to that most basic of transportation methods to make the crossing: their own two feet.

Now, Johor’s state government is planning to build a 350-m covered, air-conditioned walkway for pedestrians on the Malaysian side of the Causeway, purportedly at a cost of RM30 million, a senior Johor official announced on Sunday, September 13. Public Works, Infrastructure, and Transport Committee Chairman Mohd Solihan Badri said that Johor would seek funding from Malaysia’s federal government for the project. No word was given on the funding for the ongoing cost of operation and maintenance; it was assumed the RM30 million figure only took initial construction of the walkway into account.

Malaysia’s federal government has already doubled its initial allocation of RM15 million to facilitate a redesign of the walkwauy, with escalators and air conditioning being added, Solihan told reporters who had gathered at the Johor state assembly proceedings. “The construction will involve the Home Ministry and Works Ministry,” he explained, “as the Johor Causeway is maintained by the Malaysian Highway Authority.”

One look at the standstill snarl of vehicles on the road and you can understand why so many choose to just hoof it | Image Credit: Mashable

Most people making the land crossing use motor vehicles, but there are plenty more who walk. (Though they are technically violating the law, as pedestrians are prohibited on the Causeway, authorities never take action against them.) And for these foot soldiers, having a legally gazetted walkway — and an air-conditioned one, no less! — is certain to be welcome news.

No timetable for the walkway’s completion was immediately offered, but it seems Singapore has expressed its own interest in constructing a similar walkway on its side of the border (the Johor-built walkway would go right to the Singapore border), so that the entire crossing will be covered and comfortable.

So for Malaysians who have gotten spoiled with the fancy air-conditioned pedestrian walkway between KLCC and Pavilion in Bukit Bintang, this will be a whole new experience. After all, linking up two malls is nice, but doing the same with two countries is considerably more impressive!

The Causeway, virtually free of traffic on March 18, 2020, the first day of Malaysia’s lockdown | Image Credit: Yahoo News Singapore

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