by BERNAMA / pic by TMR FILE
JOHOR BAHRU – Johor wants the cross-border Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs) via the Johor Causeway and Second Link to be opened simultaneously with the VTL for quarantine-free air travel between Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on Nov 29.
Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad said the matter had been discussed with the federal government as more than 300,000 Johor residents had to commute to the republic for work.
He said the state government had asked the federal government weather it was possible to implement the air travel VTL simultaneously with the land travel VTL.
“Maybe the number of people commuting is not that high … let’s say between 200 and 500 a day is enough for a start.
“(The opening also) needs to ensure that the standard operating procedures (SOPs) are agreed upon by both countries that would eventually allow the residents to commute every day, that’s what we hope,” he said during a townhall session with Johor media practitioners in conjunction with the Ihsan Johor 3.0 Economic Stimulus Package 2021 (PRE Ihsan Johor 3.0) here on Wednesday.
Hasni, who is also Benut state assemblyman, said the land travel between Singapore and Johor require the construction of a Business Travellers Centre (BTC) as proposed in the Federal Budget 2022, which is to be built at the Second Link.
He said there is also a need to build another BTC at the Causeway for which the state government has offered to cover half of its cost.
“We feel that the construction of the BTC is not too complicated as it would be a place that people can undergo COVID-19 screening tests and get a little rest before continuing their journey. We are looking at about 100 people at any one time,” he said.
Hasni said the state government had proposed the usage of public transportation such as busses and trains for the land VTL as it can be done in a controlled manner instead of personal vehicles like cars and motorcycles.
On Monday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong announced the implementation of the VTL starting Nov 29.
Meanwhile, Hasni is confident that Johor will be able to achieve a growth rate of 5.0 to 7.0 per cent next year.
“Currently, we still don’t know whether COVID-19 will end in the near future, as new cases continue to fluctuate, yet we stick to the principle that existing investments need to be maintained, as they provide jobs to locals.
“Several ambassadors, including those from Japan, Germany, Finland and France expressed their commitment to continue investing in the state during meetings recently. So, based on these factors, I believe we can achieve economic growth of between 5.0 and 7.0 percent next year,” he said, adding that said focus is also given to domestic investors, small and medium enterprises, and the unemployed and underprivileged.
“The state government is confident of reviving the economic sector and helping the rakyat as the difficulties they face at the moment are not permanent. We are committed and will try to take the necessary steps to help those affected,” he said.
Hasni said the state government would also tackle the issue of unemployment, especially involving individuals who lost their jobs during the pandemic which lasted for almost two years.