Johor Menteri Besar, Datuk Ir. Haji Hasni Mohamad has urged the federal government to open a Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) via the land borders to complement the recently authorised VTL for air travel between Malaysia and Singapore, which is set to commence on the 29th of November during a town hall meeting with Johor media organisations and an appreciation ceremony for the Ihsan Johor Economic Stimulus Package (PRE 3.0) on 10th November.
Fully-vaccinated travellers would be able to travel between the two countries, subject to a COVID-19 test, instead of having to serve quarantine or a Stay-Home Notice, under the VTL.
Hasni said the matter was conveyed to the relevant ministry last week and had been discussed to make it possible for Malaysians working in Singapore to commute, suggesting the number of individuals authorised to enter Singapore by land VTL for work is not as high as we anticipated, but for a start, 300 to 500 people each day.
Citing it would benefit both sides’ economies, Hasni anticipates the land VTL could be a reality.
The state government requested that the VTL by land be implemented at the same time as the VTL via air, as per the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) agreed upon by both countries.
He said that the state government has suggested using public transportation, such as buses and trains for land VTL since it can be done in a regulated and consistent way, similar to air travel.
“We also agreed to share the cost of building a second Business Travel Centre (BTC) at the Causeway after the federal government had previously allocated RM10mil for BTC on the Second Link, which is expected to operate next year.
“We will allocate RM5mil while the other RM5mil is borne by the federal government to build a second BTC at the Causeway that can test and screen COVID-19 for 100 people at a time,” he reportedly said.
Hasni further stated that the state government has requested that the BTC operate 24 hours a day to allow more people to travel between the two nations.
Prior to this statement, Hasni was reported to have stated that the extended closure of the land borders between Singapore and Johor had damaged the state’s citizens’ livelihoods and economy. To help Johoreans manage the impacts of COVID-19, the state government has announced three relief packages worth more than RM500 million.
Touching on the subject of economy, Hasni hints at Johor 2022’s budget, which is likely to be submitted by the end of November, to have better social protection initiatives based on current data and would be delivered to impacted households.
“Overall, the year 2022 will be a hopeful one for Johor. We are determined to get the economy up and running again, with our GDP expected to expand at about 5% to 7% in 2022,” he was reportedly said.