by Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad
1. It is heartening to see Malaysia and Singapore agreeing on a sub-sea tunnel to connect the two countries. The bridge that will not be built now is planned to have eight lanes. This is of course due to the expected heavy traffic.
2. The question is whether the tunnel can provide for this volume of traffic. An eight-lane tunnel would have to be very wide or it will need two tunnels. Even if it is a double-decker like the Smart Tunnel in Kuala Lumpur, it needs to be very tall especially as it must cater for the heavy vehicles with their containers etc.
3. Because it will be far below the sea-bed it will have to begin and end far inland as lorries and trucks need gentle gradients. It can be as far as four kilometres for both ends. This, together with the undersea part will stretch the tunnel to almost eight kilometres.
4. If the Singapore MRT is going to use it as well, there must be at least another tunnel. Trains need even more gentle slopes. So the length might be more than eight kilometres.
5. Can Malaysia afford the cost of half this project, assuming the other half will be borne by Singapore? The project will cost billions and will take very many years to complete.
6. When completed I hope the causeway and the railway line will be removed. We will not need them anymore. Then water will flow east west and vice-versa. And small boats will be able to use the Tebrau Straits without having to go around south of Singapore.
7. Both Singapore and Malaysia will benefit from the removal of the causeway.