Johor–Singapore Causeway

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Coordinates: 1°27′09.98″N 103°46′08.95″E / 1.4527722°N 103.7691528°E / 1.4527722; 103.7691528

Johor–Singapore Causeway
Tambak Johor
Singapore-Johor Causeway.jpg
Carries Motor vehicles
Single-track railway
Crosses Straits of Johor
Locale Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Woodlands, Singapore
Official name Johor–Singapore Causeway
Maintained by Malaysia
PLUS Malaysia Berhad
(Projek Lebuhraya Usahasama Berhad)

Land Transport Authority (LTA)
Total length 1 km
Opened 1923

The Johor–Singapore Causeway (Malay: Tambak Johor) is a 1056-metre causeway that links the city of Johor Bahru in Malaysia across the Straits of Johor to the town of Woodlands in Singapore. It serves as a road and rail link, as well as water piping into Singapore.

The causeway is connected to the Sultan Iskandar Building in Johor Bahru, the new checkpoint replaced the Causeway Checkpoints on December 16, 2008. The complex is linked to Johor Bahru's Inner Ring Road which intersects with the Skudai Highway (Federal Route 1). On the Singapore side, the causeway leads to the Woodlands CIQ Checkpoint, which replaced an older Woodlands Checkpoint in 1998. It then connects with the Bukit Timah Expressway.

The causeway carries 60,000 vehicles on a typical day, with particularly bad traffic congestion on the eve of public holidays.


The severed causeway on the eve of Japanese invasion in 1942.

From the 19th century, Malaya’s commodities such as tin, rubber, pepper and gambier were largely shipped through the port at Singapore, a British colony. These materials were trans-shipped across the Johor Straits by ferry. The early 1900s saw a rise in cross-straits traffic of both goods and passengers, and the ferry system grew increasingly congested.

By 1911, the demand for the ferries was so high that they had to be operated around the clock. The volume of traffic and the high maintenance costs of the ferries led the colonial authorities to search for an alternative system. W. Eyre Kenny, the Federated Malay States’ (FMS) public works director, suggested the construction of a rubble causeway across the Johor Straits, and this proposal won favour over a bridge as the authorities considered the cost of steel and maintenance costs of a bridge prohibitive.

In 1917, the British government commissioned consultant engineers Coode, Matthews, Fitzmaurice and Wilson to prepare plans for the causeway, and these plans were presented to FMS, Straits Settlements (SS) and Johor governments in 1918. The proposed Causeway would be 1.05 km-long and 18.28m-wide, with metre-gauge railway tracks and a 7.92m-wide roadway. It would also include a lock channel that allowed the passage of small vessels, an electric lift-bridge, water pipelines and floodgates to manage the water flow of the straits. The total cost of the project was estimated at $17 million Straits dollars, and was shared among the FMS, Johor and Singapore governments.

In June 1919, the colonial authorities awarded the contract for the Causeway’s construction to Topham, Jones & Railton, a London-based engineering firm. Construction began in August, with the project considered technically challenging for its time. The Causeway was also the largest engineering venture in Malaya then. Construction started at the Johor end of the straits, where the lock channel was to be located, in order to minimise disruption to existing ferry services. The quarry on Pulau Ubin was reopened to supply rubble and crushed stone, and the granite supply was later boosted by stone from the Bukit Timah quarry.

In April 1920, a ceremony was held to mark the laying of the Causeway’s foundation stone. Sir Laurence Nunns Guillemard, the governor of the SS, conducted the ceremony from aboard the yacht Sea Belle, anchored in the middle of the straits. The occasion also involved the Sultan of Johor, Ibrahim II, and the mufti of Johor, who poured ceremonial waters (air doa selamat, air tolak bala and air mawar) into the straits. The ceremony was ended by the emptying of the first two loads of rubble (some 500 tons of granite) into the straits.

During an economic depression between 1920 and 1922, public criticism of the project and its costs nearly led the FMS and SS governments to halt construction. The project continued however and in June 1921 the deposit of rubble began on the Johor side, which allowed construction of the Causeway’s superstructure to begin from both sides. Work on the lift bridge began in August 1922 and the lock channel was completed in December. From January 1923, all shipping on the straits was diverted through the lock channel.

The straits were sealed up by June 1923 and the Causeway was opened to goods trains from 17 September. The goods ferry service, which by that time was running around 11,000 trips annually, and the passenger ferry service were ended. On 1 October, the Causeway was opened for public use and the first passenger train across it arrived at the Tank Road station in Singapore at 7.41 a.m. that morning. A Causeway toll, which ran up to 40 cents for first class carriage passengers and replaced the ferry fee, was introduced.

Officially completed on 11 June 1924, the Causeway’s construction had involved more than 2,000 workers, local and European, over nearly five years and used around 1.14 million m3 of stone. The Causeway completed Singapore’s rail connection to the mainland, and enabled the rapid rise of motor transportation between Singapore and Malaya.

On 28 June 1924, the Causeway’s official opening ceremony was held in Johor Bahru, and a public holiday was declared there. During the ceremony, the Malay rulers and British officials were the first to be driven across the Causeway in a convoy of 11 motorcars, after which the roadway was opened for public use. A year later, the Johor Causeway Control Committee was formed to oversee the management and maintenance of the Causeway.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

During the Japanese invasion of Malaya, retreating British troops set off two explosions on the Causeway on 31 January 1942. The first wrecked the lock’s lift-bridge, while the second caused a 21.33m gap in the Causeway. The pipelines carrying water to Singapore were also severed. The Japanese subsequently constructed a girder bridge over the gap before taking control of Singapore.

After the return of the British, the Japanese-made girder bridge was replaced with two Bailey bridge extensions in February 1946, with the rubble of the demolished lift bridge cleared and the railway tracks re-laid. The lock channel and lift bridge were permanently closed as there was insufficient vessel traffic to justify its cost.

During the Malayan Emergency of 1948-1960, a system of identity card checks was instituted for Causeway travelers. In 1949, it was estimated that more than 27,000 lorries utilised the Causeway each month. Within a decade, more than 30,000 people and 7,000 vehicles were estimated to cross the Causeway daily.

On 22 July 1964, the Causeway was closed to travelers without police permission as part of a curfew after racial riots in Singapore. It was reopened during non-curfew hours the following day and normal traffic had resumed by 26 July. After Singapore’s separation from Malaysia in August 1965, the Causeway became the border connector between the two countries. Immigration checkpoints were built on both sides, with passport controls implemented on the Singaporean side from June 1967 and from September on the Malaysian side.

The Johor–Singapore Causeway was the first land link between Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. The second, called the Malaysia–Singapore Second Link, was completed in 1998.

The new Woodlands Checkpoint, built partially on reclaimed land, was opened in 1999 to accommodate the increasing traffic flow and the soot which had enveloped the old customs complex over the years. The old road leading to the causeway was diverted. The old customs complex, built in the early 1970s, at the junction between Woodlands Road and Woodlands Centre Road closed after the new checkpoint was opened in July 1999, although the motorcycle lane remained opened in the morning until 2001, and it had been reopened on 1 March 2008 for goods vehicles only. The new checkpoint complex also houses the Woodlands Train Checkpoint, opened on 1 August 1998, as the Singapore railway border clearance facility, which was previously co-located with Malaysian immigration and customs at Tanjong Pagar railway station. The relocation to Woodlands caused disputes between the two countries, which was resolved in 2010. On 1 July 2011, Woodlands Train Checkpoint replaced Tanjong Pagar railway station as Singapore's inter-city railway station, with co-located border clearance for both countries.

Malaysian Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi officially launched the opening of Sultan Iskandar Complex on 1 December 2008. The new customs complex went into full operation on 16 December 2008 at 12 midnight sharp, closing down the old customs complex.

Attempts to have the Causeway replaced[edit]

The Johor–Singapore Causeway across the Straits of Johor facing towards Singapore.
The same causeway facing towards Johor Bahru.

There were several calls by Malaysians to remove the Causeway. The first call occurred in the Johor state legislative council when the speaker said that the Causeway was "more a hindrance than anything else" while a port should be built close to Johor Bahru to rejuvenate the city's economy. The state of Johor currently already has developed ports including Pasir Gudang and Tanjong Pelapas.

The second demand came in year 1986 when Israeli President Chaim Herzog visited Singapore. At that time, the Singapore Government was criticised by Malaysian politicians and the press for allowing his visit (Interestingly, one of Singapore's Founding fathers, David Saul Marshall, was Jewish and the island has strong links with Israel).

Under the former Mahathir administration, the Malaysian government scheduled to build a new customs, immigration and quarantine complex on a hilltop near the Johor Bahru railway station. A bridge was planned to link the new customs complex with the city square. The project was named Southern Integrated Gateway (Gerbang Selatan Bersepadu) by the government. The project was awarded to a construction company, Gerbang Perdana. During the construction, one of the two underpass channels located at the end of the old customs complex had been blocked. Roads exiting from the old customs complex have been diverted. The design envisages a re-direction of traffic flow to the new customs complex after the completion of the proposed new bridge to Singapore. The old customs complex will be torn down once the new customs complex begins operation. All this while, no agreement had been reached with the Singapore Government on replacing the causeway with a proposed new bridge.

The proposals on replacing the old causeway with a new bridge has resulted in a political rift between the two countries since the early 2000s. The Malaysian government envisioned that disagreement by Singapore to participate in the project would result in a crooked bridge above Malaysian waters with half the causeway remaining on the Singapore side. However, Singapore has hinted that it might agree to a bridge if its air force is allowed to use part of Johor's airspace. Malaysia refused the offer and negotiation is said to be still ongoing.[8]

In January 2006, Malaysia unilaterally announced that it is going ahead to build the new bridge on the Malaysian side, now referred to as scenic bridge.[9] The construction of the new scenic bridge on Malaysian side officially began on 10 March 2006, when the piling works of this bridge was completed,[10] but on 12 April 2006, construction was halted and scrapped by Mahathir's successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, with growing complications in both negotiation (the conditions set by Singapore were strongly opposed by the people of Malaysia on grounds of national sovereignty) and legal matters with Singapore.[11]

Most recently, Badawi has said that "in [the] future, there won't be just one or two bridges between Malaysia and Singapore."[12]

In early November 2006, the Sultan of Johor called for the demolition of the link, reasoning that the Causeway is undermining the state economy.[13][14]

The Southern Integrated Gateway[edit]

Traffic navigational channels[edit]

Two lanes are designated for cars and motorcycles heading for Singapore. A third lane was designated for buses and a fourth lane was designated for trucks and lorries. Similarly, two lanes are designated for cars and motorcycles entering Malaysia. A third lane was designated for trucks. There is also a height limit as double-decker bus are not possible to go through, even though 160, 170, 950, AC7, CW1 and CW2 passes by this road.

Entering Singapore[edit]

At the Singaporean (entering) side, LED screens direct cars into four separate lanes and within the four lanes that leads into the customs complex, numerous counters are allocated to check passengers' passports. This sector is termed "primary clearance".

Motorcycles are directed to one main channel. This applies to buses entering Singapore where they will have to enter via another separate channel.

Cars carrying taxable goods are directed to the red channel to declare their goods and make payments at a nearby counter. Cars not carrying any taxable goods are allowed to proceed to the green channel, and it is mandatory for cars to proceed to the customs officers check centre. This sector is termed "secondary clearance".

This requires at least one passenger to alight from the car. Parking lots are used to accommodate these cars. If clear, the car will proceed to a customs officers check centre. The officer-in-charge has the right to search the goods in the passenger car. Suspicious persons are directed to drive to a nearby station for a dog check. This requires the removal of all items for a security check, while at the same time, dogs are used to detect if the car contained any smuggled goods or drugs. Once cleared, the vehicle is directed onto the ramp which leads to the Bukit Timah Expressway or Woodlands Centre Road.

Leaving Singapore[edit]

Singapore's law requires that every Singaporean-registered vehicle leaving Singapore must have at least a three-quarter-full petrol tank due to the fact that the Singapore Government wanted to discourage Singaporeans from going over to Johor simply to buy cheaper petrol, although in the past, a half tank of petrol was sufficient. Foreign-registered cars are exempted from this requirement.

All vehicles have the option to enter the customs complex either through the Bukit Timah Expressway or Woodlands Centre Road. Passenger cars entering via Woodlands Centre Road are directed into four channels; cars at Bukit Timah Expressway would encounter problems in driving as two lanes would merge somewhere along the viaduct leading to the customs complex.

Cars are then directed to drive-thru windows at immigration to have their passports inspected. If clear, cars will drive towards the sector where officers might be seen checking the petrol gauge in every Singaporean-registered car. Cars will then enter the causeway.

Entering Malaysia[edit]

Sign at entrance to Malaysia

Cars entering Malaysia are separated into two categories - cars with driver only and cars with at least one passenger. The former will go to a small, right-hand-side section of the complex while the later will be directed to the large portion of the complex. Buses carrying passengers will alight at the right-most corner of the complex.

Vans and other goods vehicles are channeled up a slope leading to the Tanjung Puteri complex above the custom complex meant for cars.

Leaving Malaysia[edit]

Passenger cars leaving Malaysia only require their passports to be checked. Cars are directed to counters where their passports are to be checked before they are permitted to proceed to the causeway.

Malaysians who are permitted to hold restricted passports (only valid for entering Singapore) until 31 December 2005, were only required to show the passport to the customs officer at the counter. A new law was introduced in 2003 to stop issuing restricted passports to all Malaysians. This requires Malaysians travelling to Singapore to hold an international passport, a rule that was once optional. Singaporeans once held similar passports as with the Malaysians until 2000.

Traffic Jams[edit]

Traffic jams may measure up to 1.5 km along Woodlands Centre Road during peak hours. Vehicles heading towards the customs complex via the Bukit Timah Expressway may encounter a similar situation. Travelling by public-bus service across the causeway takes about 30 to 45 minutes, while the travelling time for other vehicles are between one and two hours.

Tolls and VEP charges[edit]

Vehicles have to pay toll charges at both sides of the causeway. The toll plaza at the Malaysian side is operated by PLUS Expressway Berhad, whereas the toll plaza at the Singaporean side is operated by Land Transport Authority. VEP charges apply to cars and motorcycles that have utilised the 10-VEP free days.

Malaysian toll charges[edit]

Class Type of vehicles Inbound traffic
Rate (in Malaysian ringgit (RM))
Outbound traffic
Rate (in Malaysian ringgit (RM))
0 Motorcycle None None
1 Private Cars RM 9.70 RM 6.80
2 Vans and other small good vehicles RM 14.70 RM 10.20
3 Large Trucks RM 19.70 RM 13.60
4 Taxis RM 4.80 RM 3.40
5 Buses RM 7.80 RM 5.50
Note: Toll charges can only be paid with the Touch 'n Go card. Cash payment is not accepted.

Singapore toll charges[edit]

Class Type of vehicles Outbound traffic
Rate (in Singapore dollar (S$))
Inbound traffic
Rate (in Singapore dollar (S$))
0 Motorcycle (Nil) (Nil)
1 Private Cars S$3.80 S$2.70
2 Vans and other Light Goods vehicles S$5.80 S$4.00
3 Heavy Goods Vehicles S$7.70 S$5.30
4 Taxis S$1.90 S$1.40
5 Buses S$3.10 S$2.20
Note: Toll charges are only paid through Autopass Card (Malaysian registered vehicles only), EZ-Link, NETS CashCard or NETS FlashPay. An additional administrative fee of S$10 will be payable for cash payments.

Singapore VEP charges[edit]

The Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) Scheme was introduced in 1973 to regulate the entry of foreign-registered cars into Singapore. This scheme was eventually extended to foreign-registered motorcycles in 1992.

During the 1980s, foreign-registered cars were allowed up to 25 days of VEP-free days on weekdays and Saturdays from 2 a.m. to 3 p.m.. These cars will then have to pay the VEP after the days were fully utilised. A VEP slip at that time consist of a coloured, patterned paper which was stuck to the windshield. Each VEP was valid for a day.

Since the 1990s, cars and motorcycles had to display a coloured paper on their dashboards stating the date of entry. Such permits were only valid on weekdays between 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturdays after 3PM and the entire Sundays and Singapore's public holidays. Cars and motorcycles were also allowed five days of free entry for each calendar year into Singapore during peak hours during weekdays (including Saturday and eve of public holidays before 3 p.m.). Such a move was to control traffic flow in Singapore by restricting foreign-registered from entering Singapore.

In year 2000, the Land Transport Authority decided to cease the issuing of multi-coloured Vehicle Entry Permits printed on cars and motorcycles. Instead, coupons were issued and distributed to foreign-registered vehicles entering Singapore; vehicles entering via the Johor Causeway will receive a purple ticket with the LTA logo printed on it. A similar green ticket was issued for and distributed to foreign-registered vehicles entering via the Second Link at Tuas. Drivers will have to pay for the ticket as toll charges. These coupons were issued in 1999 but co-existed with the Vehicle Entry Permit until it phased out on 31 March 2000.

At the same time, the five-day free-entry scheme for foreign-registered vehicles entering Singapore during peak hours in Singapore was abolished. However, such a ticketing system was later abolished and the Autopass Card System was introduced. Drivers will have to slot in their cards into an In-Vehicle Unit or IU machine which deducts the toll charges the drivers will have to pay. Toll charges are automatically deducted via the IU machine when a vehicle leaves Singapore.

All foreign-registered vehicles entering Singapore are only granted free entry on weekends and during off-peak hours on weekdays (5 p.m.-2 a.m.), although toll charges have to be paid, which varies from vehicle. Cars and motorcycles entering Singapore during peak hours on weekdays had to pay Vehicle Entry Permit fees.

In January 2005, with the implementation of the five-day work week, foreign-registered cars are exempted of VEP charges for entire Saturdays, instead of exempting VEP charges only after 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Exemption of VEP charges on Sundays and Singapore's public holidays still apply.

The Land Transport Authority announced on 1 June 2005, foreign-registered cars and motorcycles are permitted to drive into Singapore for 10 days in a calendar year without paying Vehicle Entry Permit fees, although toll charges still apply. After the 10-Vehicle Entry Permit free days have been utillised, drivers will have to pay the prevailing VEP fees for subsequent days if they continue to use or drive their vehicles into Singapore. Such charges apply to cars and motorcycles who leave their vehicles in Singapore during weekdays between 2 a.m. to 5 p.m.. However, during the Singapore mid-year and year-end school holidays, VEP fees will only apply from 2AM to 12PM.

In the same year, the government increased the toll charges of cars (S$1 to S$1.20 for cars entering via Causeway, S$3.50 to S$3.70 for cars entering via Second link) and other vehicles. Vehicle Entry Permit Charges for cars was lowered from 30 to 20 dollars.

VEPs can also be purchased on a monthly basis at S$600 for cars and S$80 for motorcycles.

VEP charges for Foreign-Registered Vehicles[15]

  • Passenger cars: S$35 per day (as of 1 August 2014)
  • Motorcycles: S$4 per day

Bus services[edit]

Public Buses crossing the causeway

Service Origin Destination Note
Causeway Link Cross Border Services
CW1 Larkin Woodlands Road
CW2 Larkin Queen Street
CW5 Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Newton Food Centre
SBS Transit Trunk Services
160 Jurong East Loop at JB Sentral
170 Queen Street Larkin
170X Woodlands Road (Kranji MRT Station) Loop at JB Sentral
SMRT Buses Trunk Service
950 Woodlands Loop at JB Sentral Accessibility-directory.svg

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Johore Annual Report 1920
  2. ^ Johore Annual Report 1921
  3. ^ Johore Annual Report 1922
  4. ^ Johore Annual Report 1923
  5. ^ Johore Annual Report 1924
  6. ^ Johore Annual Report 1925
  7. ^ Page 21. A Souvernir Commemorating The Diamond Jubilee of His Highness the Sultan of Johore (1885-1955), 1955.
  8. ^ "Shahrir Samah Replies: Have I burnt my bridges?". New Straits Times. 9 February 2005.  (Posted on
  9. ^ "Malaysian PM on 'Scenic Bridge' Go-ahead". The New Paper. 31 January 2006. 
  10. ^ "'Scenic bridge' to open in 2009". New Straits Times. 10 March 2006. 
  11. ^ "M'sia Stops Construction Of Bridge To Replace Johor Causeway". Prime Minister's Office, Malaysia. 12 April 2006. 
  12. ^ "'Singapore". The Edge Malaysia. 11 September 2006. 
  13. ^ "Malaysian sultan calls for scrapping of causeway to Singapore". Agence France-Pesse via The Nation. 3 November 2006. 
  14. ^ "Malaysian sultan calls for scrapping of causeway to Singapore". Bernama. 5 November 2006. 
  15. ^ "Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) Fees & Toll Charges". Land Transport Authority of Singapore. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 


External links[edit]