JOHOR: News of a new expressway interchange at Simpang Lima in Bukit Gambir, Ledang, has brought cheer to more than 120,000 residents in 15 villages in the outlying areas.
Although the expressway cuts across Kesang, Sungai Mati, Sungai Terap, Serom, Simpang Lima, Bukit Gambir, Grisik, Sengkang, Kundang Ulu, Durian Condong, Kampung Teratai and two Felda schemes in Bukit Serampang and Kundang Ulu, and looks near, it is far to reach.
To reach the highway, the residents have to travel 25km to the Tangkak interchange or 55km to the Pagoh interchange to travel south or north.
Gambir state assemblyman M. Asojan said the year had brought good news to Ledang residents who had long been asking for an interchange closer to home which would cut down travel time and promote rural economic growth.
Asojan, who is the state Unity, Human Resources, Science, Technology and Innovation Committee chairman, said cottage industry products could be delivered more speedily and fetch better prices once the interchange was completed.
He said with the opening of the new 10.8km Sengkang-Teratai road last year which cost RM15 million, travellers from Segamat, Labis Kebun Bahru, Bukit Serampang and Bukit Kepong would be able to use the road to the new interchange.
Bukit Gambir Rukun Tetangga chairman Foong Yoon Kong, 82, said he was happy as residents had appealed for the interchange for more than 23 years.
Foong, a former Bukit Gambir MCA branch chairman, said the construction of the interchange would change their fortune as it would promote industrial growth and create job opportunities in villages.
Vegetable grower Tan So Tiok said produce from the Jalan Sengkang farms could reach markets nationwide faster, reducing spoilage.
He said operating costs would also be lowered as farmers need not travel to the Tangkak or Pagoh interchanges.
Tan, who is also Federation of Malaysian Vegetable Farmers' Association president, said the new interchange would expedite development in Ledang.
Plus Expressways Bhd chief operating officer Nik Airina Nik Jaffar said earlier that the three elevated interchanges on the North-South expressway would be built in Sungai Buaya, Selangor; Alor Pongsu in Perak; and Bukit Gambir in Johor, at a cost of RM250 million. The interchanges are expected to be completed in two to three years.
Construction of the Bukit Gambir interchange at Km157 between the Tangkak and Pagoh interchanges begins next month.
Each interchange will be equipped with facilities such as surau, toilets and parking bays.
SOURCE: NST JOHOR STREETS, MAY 16, 2010