Singapore—In a statement dated April 4, Thursday, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) has said that its “possible” for Malaysia to be given a six-month extension concerning matters related to the RTS Link Project, but with an agreement from both countries.
In answer to questions from the media, MOT released a two-point statement on their website.
The first point states that Malaysia requested a 6-month deadline to respond to Singapore about concerns related to the RTS Link Project on March 27 of this year, in order to review “the scope, structure and costs” of the RTS Link Project “previously agreed between the two countries.”
The second point gives MOT’s answer, that it is possible for project deadlines to be deferred and project parameters to be reviewed “provided it is done within the framework of the RTS Link Bilateral Agreement (BA) and subject to mutual consent of both countries.”
The statement also contained the following example, “Malaysia can request to suspend the RTS Link Project, as was done for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail Project. Alternatively, Malaysia can terminate the existing RTS Link BA and request to negotiate a fresh BA with Singapore.”
On Monday, April 1, Malaysia’s Transport Minister Anthony Loke said that the extension was being asked for to allow the government to review the costs of the project, which is estimated at S$1.33 billion (RM4 billion), with an eye toward further reductions. He told the Malaysian press, “We are asking for more time from Singapore for us to study other options. We are asking for a six-month extension.”
In January, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) link project was experiencing delays in its scheduled timelines.
MP Ang Wei Neng had asked for an update on the RTS link project in Parliament, specifically an approximate timeline.
The reason that Khaw gave for the lag is that Malaysia has delayed the confirmation of the joint venture (JV) partner for the project many times. This caused project milestones to be missed.
The RTS is being built to connect Bukit Chagar station in Johor Baru and Woodlands North station in Singapore, and the projected date of completion is 2024.
A bilateral agreement dating January of last year mandated for a joint venture company consisting of Singapore’s SMRT and Malaysia’s Prasarana Malaysia to be formed by June 30, 2018. This joint venture company would have been appointed as the operator (OpCo) of the RTS Link, as per a Concession Agreement between the Malaysian government and Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) by September 30, 2018.
Neither one of these deadlines were met.
The Transport Minister reported to Parliament that Malaysia had said it was looking into changing its JV partner since the agreement began, and in September and again twice in December, it delayed confirming who the JV partner would be. Lately, it has requested a new deadline for confirming their JV partner, February 28, 2019.
On its part, Singapore’s LTA had put together almost 70 employees and engineers for the project. It has also called civil tenders for constructing related infrastructure.
After last year’s General Election in Malaysia, the new administration put ongoing projects under review. Malaysia had said that the high-speed rail project between the two nations would be postponed, but that the RTS project would continue, according to Malaysia’s Transport Minister Anthony Loke.