Saturday, August 2, 2003

Malaysia building half a bridge

By Jonathan Kent
BBC correspondent, Kuala Lumpur

The bridge will shift traffic jams to Singapore
The Malaysian Government has unveiled a novel solution to an ongoing dispute with Singapore over road links between the two countries.
Singapore has been reluctant to agree to a new bridge over the strait that separates the two.
So Malaysia has announced that it will build half a bridge instead.
Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad told reporters the proposed bridge would be a little unusual.
That seems to be an understatement.
Perhaps because the economic traffic favours Malaysia, Singapore has shown little enthusiasm for building a bridge to relieve congestion on the two crossings that link the island republic to the mainland.
So undeterred the Malaysians will build half a bridge that joins the main causeway at its mid-point.
That will almost certainly shift the traffic jams to the Singaporean side.
The eight-lane bridge will have to climb high enough to allow ships underneath and drop back down again to the causeway all in one-and-a-half kilometres.
As a result the new half-bridge will have a distinctive look.
"If it is too steep lorries will not be able to climb so we have to construct a crooked bridge," Dr Mahathir explained.
Around 50,000 Malaysians commute to Singapore daily and thousands of Singaporeans spend their weekends in Malaysia taking advantage of lower prices.
The bridge is one of many points of friction between the neighbours.