JOHOR BARU: To ensure the southern economic corridor of Iskandar Malaysia remains competitive, the federal and state governments should look into the housing, water supply and public transportation needs in Johor for Budget 2017.

Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said that priority should be on strengthening the public transportation system in the state.

“An effective and efficient transportation system would not only ensure Iskandar remains competitive in terms of economic development but also benefit the local community.

“Many suggestions surrounding the development of public transportation here have been mooted to the Government in the past few years,” he told reporters after launching the Geoinformatics and Geomatics Festival 2016 at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Skudai Campus here on Monday.

Ismail noted that among the plans to upgrade public transportation include the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Rapid Transit System (RTS) and High Speed Rail (HSR).

He also said that affordable housing, especially for the B40 group as well as water woes in the state, should receive attention in the budget which will be tabled on Oct 21.

The population of Iskandar Malaysia is expected to increase to three million by 2025 from 2.5 million recorded last year.

As such, Ismail added ,demand for houses is expected to rise.

“We estimate some 1.2 million of residential units may be needed to accommodate the population growth but currently we only have a supply of 700,000 units.

“I hope that both the federal and state governments can take these issues into consideration in the budget,” he added.