RTS Link project is on

It will be built at an estimated cost of RM3.2b, 36% lower than the original cost of RM4.9b

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by BERNAMA

THE Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link connecting Johor Baru, Johor, and Singapore will proceed as the government slashed RM1.77 billion from the original cost, paving the way for more convenient travel at one of the world’s busiest border crossings.

The project, which had been dogged by delays including high cost, design obstacles and land acquisitions, will be built at an estimated cost of RM3.16 billion, 36% lower than the original cost of RM4.93 billion when the project was mooted.

The Pakatan Harapan pulled the plug on the project after coming into power after last year’s May general election. Putrajaya and Singapore have been in discussions as both parties agree to postpone the construction of the rail link. Malaysia is believed to have paid RM2 million for the extension of the project. Putrajaya will have to pay RM200 million to Singapore if the former decides to axe the project.

But, there is an urgent need to address the massive jam at the causeway with about 350,000 people crossing the slightly over 1km structure daily.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Putrajaya and Singapore will deliberate on the details of the revised project including the structure, scope and specifications.

“We will go ahead with the project and solve a little bit on the issue of traffic congestion. Details of the project would be discussed with the Singapore government,” he said in a press conference at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex in Johor Baru yesterday, according to Bernama.

The 4km RTS Link — connecting Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru to Woodlands in Singapore — is expected to alleviate the congestion at Johor Causeway.

In a statement, the government said the RTS Link will become the preferred mode of transportation across the borders of the two countries.

“The government is committed to addressing the congestion issue between Johor Baru and Singapore comprehensively by working closely together with Singapore.

“We believe the RTS Link will become the preferred choice of transport for tens of thousands of people who want fast, reliable and affordable service for their daily commute,” it said yesterday.

Malaysia’s Transport Ministry obtained the Cabinet’s approval to proceed with the RTS Link project on Oct 18, 2019. The Cabinet had also instructed the ministry to make changes to the project structure, scope and specifications.

Among the key features of the revised project structure is the involvement of the developer/owner of the Bukit Chagar land to fund and enable the project with the land cost waived.

“Coupled with optimised costs in construction and rail systems, the government achieves substantial savings hence making the project more financially viable,” the Transport Ministry said.

Officials from both countries are currently refining Malaysia’s proposal to amend the project structure and specifications to ensure it is aligned to the latest requirements.

It also said Prasarana Malaysia Bhd remains as Malaysia’s representative in the Joint Venture (JV) Operating Co and Prasarana is mandated to consult with Singapore rail company, SMRT Corp Ltd to finalise the terms of the JV agreement.

Mass Rapid Transit Corp Sdn Bhd or its subsidiary shall be appointed as the railway infrastructure company, who is responsible for project implementation and completion, including infrastructures such as bridges, viaducts, stations, depots and CIQ buildings.

Construction of the cross-border rail link was initially targeted to begin operation on Dec 31, 2024.