Friday, February 11, 2011

Update on Johor Baru's RM1.3bil CIQ (a WIP)

It is almost 2 years since the RM1.3bil CIQ was opened but sadly there are still major teething problems for this rushed job.
If you remember correctly, this was the major project announced just before TDM retired as the Prime Minister. As with many mega-projects, this one did not have an open tender to establish competitive prices.
So how does the new CIQ compare with the old one that was demolished? To me, the only benefit for motorists is that you don't need to drive through the city centre, thereby easing the city's congestion. However for most business owners that is bad news and some owners have had to close shop.
As far as driving through the new CIQ is concerned, it all depends on how many immigration booths are operating and if insufficient stations are open, the queue backs up and can be quite bad. I wonder what are the performance standards set for the CIQ?
Like traffic should not back up more than 300meters?
Even as the CIQ was opened two years back, there was an announcement that a multi-million ringgit project variation was being planned; in order to eliminate the long and winding road that was put in.
As the picture shows, this so-called improvement does not help much, especially for buses that have to share 2 lanes with cars.The blocked section on the right is for lorries and buses have to move about 250 meters further up before a special bus lane begins.

This new road has made about 5km of brand new carriageway redundant and one can see the old approach for cars of the new complex being dug up.

Barely used for two years, this is surely the result of poor planning and the rush to complete the project after Singapore refused to allow the bridge construction.

This used to be the first approach of cars to the brand new CIQ but it was at the end of a long and winding stretched that snaked from the old CIQ about 1.5km to the new CIQ complex that is on top of Bukit Chagar.The winding section is no longer in used and hence the removal of the redundant section. No doubt the rubble can be used for land-fill but it is a very expensive method to execute projects. So far they have not published the final cost for the CIQ project and a cost over-run of 20% or RM260mil will not be surprising as all the construction equipment is still on site and nebulous variation orders are being carried out.

What are facilities like for pedestrians?

(photo:thanks to
Sadly the designers for the CIQ never took the needs of pedestrians into account. I guess none of them used public transport anyway to understand the difficulties for bus passengers. I estimate that a pedestrian from Singapore walks 800meters after alighting from a bus to City Square whereas a person who starts from JB walks about 1200m from the drop-off point opposite City Square to the point where one can queue for the bus.

The next photo, taken from a bus that drops passengers at the CIQ, shows that the road here is always congested with many buses that stop here.
One problem is that many cars also head to this part of town, with cars going to the JB Central car park on the left and City Square on the right. Of course many buses also simply wait by the road-side to wait for passengers.

There are usually 2 policemen on duty under the porch area but they are more for security than traffic control. The JPJ patrol this area frequently mainly to scare off errant bus drivers and motorists rather then issue tickets on a consistent basis.
Just like the JPJ enforcement, a pedestrian can never be sure of how his or her journey is going to be affected by the constant changing of bus stops and whether one has to lug luggage just down the CIQ or another 400meters to the old Railway Station where there is another designated bus stop.
If you study the photo on the left, the buses are dropping off passengers under the covered area and the signage is correct - bus stop on the left side under the flat roofed area while the right side is for Emergencies(in Red)
Never mind that they have built concrete benches for easy access on the right side of the covered area!

Then about 2 weeks ago, they dug up a section of the new road where the buses are supposed to travel and also blocked off the entrance so that now the entire entrance to the CIQ is blocked by buses stopping on the main road. Of course this makes the traffic chaos between City Square and the CIQ even worse.

This photo on the left, taken from under the porch of the new CIQ shows buses blocking the entrances to the JB Central car park and the CIQ.

The bus stop at the Railway Station is about 300meters from the CIQ and the curious thing is that buses don't stop at the bus stop properly but stop just under the pedestrian bridge and so passengers may have to rush for buses.
Of course some bus drivers also don't bother to stop and simply ignore the passenger's frantic waving.
Be warned though that there is ZERO information at the bus stop - no indication of bus numbers and no route information for the various buses. But bus drivers are usually helpful and will tell you if you are on the wrong bus and sometimes they will advise which number you should catch.
After spending RM2bil on such a mega-project, one would have expected a world-class CIQ but this project really sucks. It was dubbed the "crooked bridge" project but maybe we should rename it the "crooked CIQ" project.


koo said...

What's CIQ? I hope your meaningful message can reach more people out there who want to be in the know, too.

H J Angus said...

CIQ stands for Customs Immigration Quarantine complex

koo said...

Many thanks. Will recommend others on this informative blog.

H J Angus said...

thank you for promoting this blog!

biscuit_orange1003 said...

Hi,do you think that the new Johor CIQ is white elephant...