- Singapore Customs and Immigration Office
Upon arrival at the Queen St. Bus Terminal, I took the SBS (Singapore Bus Service) Transit’s service 170. These public buses provide one of the cheapest and most reliable form of transport directly into the heart of Johor Bahru, across the causeway over the Straits of Johor, from Singapore. The Johor-Singapore Causeway, completed in 1923 after 4 years of construction, was partially destroyed in 1942 during World War II, to prevent the Japanese army from invading Singapore. However, it was rebuilt once the Japanese had captured the island.
Very popular but terminally congested, the causeway is crossed by buses, trains, taxis and cars and is normally jam-packed on Friday evenings (towards Malaysia) and Sunday evenings (towards Singapore). However, it was the Qing Ning holiday (similar to our All Saints Day) and the bus queue was very long going to Johor. Seeing the traffic, I decided to alight from the bus and just walked towards the Singapore Customs & Immigration Office at Woodlands for the necessary departure clearance.
A second crossing, between Johor Bahru and western Singapore, was open on January 2, 1998. Known as the Tuas Second Link, it is much faster and less congested than the Causeway and is used by some of the luxury bus services to Kuala Lumpur.
I also decided to just walk the whole 1 km. length of the Causeway to the Malaysian side. It seems I was the only one doing so. Along the way, I noticed, aside from the huge traffic jam, the huge water pipes as well as the railway track between the two sides of the Causeway. I was dripping with sweat by the time I reached the other side.
In December 2008, immediately after the opening of the new Johor Bahru CIQ complex, crossing the Causeway, on foot, from Singapore to Johor Bahru was officially forbidden by the Singapore authorities. Once you have cleared Singapore immigration at the Woodlands Checkpoint, you have to take any of the public or private buses waiting at the bus bays downstairs to cross the Causeway. There is always a Singapore police officer stationed at the staircase entrance to the Causeway to prevent anyone from crossing the Causeway on foot.