By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN & DASVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
Any delay in the progress of the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link will allow time for deliberation that will ensure the project to be more cost-effective, Transport Minister Anthony Loke (picture) said.
The cross-border rail project, which was proposed to connect Woodlands North station on Singapore’s Thomson-East Coast mass rapid transit line to Johor Baru, has been further delayed following the government’s move to seek another deadline extension to March 31.
The extension is expected to allow the government to determine the right partner in the RTS Link project.
“The government is still discussing and evaluating some views, including having the right financial model and identifying the right entity that will represent Malaysia as a shareholder in the OpCo. The Malaysian entity will also function to monitor and ensure that the fares imposed by the OpCo will be affordable,” Loke said in response to a question from Hassan Abdul Karim (Pakatan Harapan-Pasir Gudang) yesterday
Both countries signed a bilateral agreement in January last year that was expected to result in the formation of a joint venture (JV) company comprising Singapore’s SMRT Corp Ltd and Prasarana Malaysia Bhd by June 30, 2018.
In September 2018, the RTS Link Operating Company, or OpCo, was named as the developer.
However, Malaysia has since delayed confirming its partner thrice — first until September 2018; then to December 2018; and later to February this year.
Prasarana is expected to be replaced by a private company, a move that is expected to save the government from bearing the project’s construction cost.
Following the latest round of delay, Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, who is also acting transport minister, said the RTS project “is no longer on track” to commence by Dec 31, 2024, as scheduled.
The current deal will cost the Malaysian government RM4 billion to complete the 4km rail line.
Loke told the Parliament that the government’s search for a new JV partner has also hit a snag.
However, he said the government is committed to realise the project within the stipulated time frame so that the service could still commence on Dec 31, 2024.