Singapore—The country’s Ministry of Transport welcomed the news from Malaysia concerning its decision to proceed with the construction of the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link project that connects Johor Bahru and Singapore, according to a press statement from the MOT on Thursday evening, October 31.
An estimated 10,000 commuters per hour are expected to be served by the new RTS link, in a system similar to Light Rail Transit in Kuala Lumpur.
Earlier that day, Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad confirmed in a press conference that the RTS Link would indeed be constructed. Work on the link would resume without further delay, he added, and that the link would be built with a cost cut of 36 percent, “from RM4.93 billion to RM3.16 billion.”
The link was originally planned in order to reduce the heavy traffic on the Johor Causeway and connect Singapore to the Southern Economic Corridor Iskandar Malaysia. The agreement to build the link had been signed between the Government of Singapore and the administration of then Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, who lost his bid for re-election in the May 2018 elections.
The project was put on hold when Dr Mahathir began his term, as his administration evaluated the currents and their corresponding costs.
For a time, whether the project would continue or not was uncertain, since in May the two countries agreeing to suspend works on the link until September 30. And in September, another month was added to the suspension with no extra costs.
But Dr Mahathir had already confirmed earlier in the month that his government would push through with the project, when the Malaysian Government launched its National Transport Policy in Kuala Lumpur on October 17.
Even earlier, Lim Guan Eng, Malaysia’s Finance Minister, also said that the Government “intends to proceed” with the link when he tabled the national budget for next year.
The MOT said in its press release, “Singapore welcomes Malaysia’s decision to proceed with the project.
Both sides are now discussing the changes to the project, which Malaysia is proposing in order to reduce the project cost.
As the changes will require amendments to the RTS Link Agreement, the discussions will take some time. Both sides are working hard on this,” the Ministry added.
The MOT spokesman told Channel NewsAsia (CNA) that it has asked for specifics from the Malaysian government regarding its proposed changes to the original agreement.
Anthony Loke Siew Fook, Malaysia’s Transport Minister, said at a separate event that Malaysia has already submitted an official proposal regarding the RTS Link, and is waiting for the Singapore Government to review it before finalizing the deal, according to a report from CNA.
Mr Loke said that the proposed changes will lower the costs of construction and cause the fares for commuters to become affordable.
The Transport Minister also said that he expects for the final agreement for the RTS link to be inked by both parties by early 2020./ TISG