I am always for development. The more linkages that we can have with Singapore and Iskandar, the better. The bigger Penang airport, the better. The more world class universities opening in Malaysia, the better. The more private hospitals built, the better. However, a 148km bridge? It stopped me as I try to make sense of why is such a bridge needed. There were not a lot of arguments put forth for the bridge apart from the huge potential economic growth between the two ends of the bridge; Malacca and Dumai. Ok, let me say this first, IF the bridge can be built without using public funds, I am up for it. However, I feel the following must be answered first.
Funding. Who will fund it? Assuming Malacca really can build the 49km on its side but how would Dumai be able to afford the remaining 79km? The second Penang bridge costs RM4.5 Billion and is 24km. The toll has to be collected over a period of nothing less than 30 years. The Malacca-Dumai bridge toll alone may reach into RM100? I think it will be higher!
Tourism? I seriously and sincerely do not believe tourists would drive into Malacca from Dumai by the hundreds of thousands. In fact flights would be even better because it may be faster and more convenient not to mention cheaper with so many low-cost airlines competing against each other today.
Economic activity? Dumai residents to buy properties in Malacca and vice-versa? Oh yeah, there are just 16,000 population in Dumai. Majority of them live in villages. I am very sure they may want to do their shopping for branded goods in Malacca. 😛
Unless more concrete plans are put forth, I think it is best that Malacca think on expanding its airport and get more tourists to fly in and enjoy its UNESCO CITY status as well as thinking of ways to reduce the jams during holidays. Many may have been put off due to this. The last time I went to Malacca, it took me 5 hours to reach KL from Melaka!
Having said that, if indeed a bridge is built, and even if the toll is RM200, I would love to drive from Malacca into Dumai just for the experience. Come on, be honest, how many places in the world that you can drive over a real sea from one country to another? Perhaps seafood in Dumai is also cheap. Hey, that might be it. Buy enough seafood to save enough to cover the cost of the toll. Why not?
written on 15th Jan 2014
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