SINGAPORE — Singapore has agreed to suspend the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link (RTS) project for one more month “in the spirit of bilateral cooperation” after a request made by Malaysia to do so, said Singapore’s Ministry of Transport (MOT) on Monday (30 September).
“Singapore has also agreed to waive the additional costs incurred by Singapore during this one-month period arising from Malaysia’s request, but reserves the right to claim any additional costs incurred beyond 30 September 2019 should Malaysia request any further extensions of the suspension period,” said MOT in response to media queries on the RTS link.
With the extension, the suspension period will end on 31 October 2019 instead of the previously agreed date of 30 September 2019.
In May, both countries signed an agreement to suspend the RTS project for six months, with Malaysia bearing the abortive costs of suspending the project amounting to some $600,000.
Malaysia will also have the opportunity to propose changes to the project scope. “Malaysia and Singapore will also continue to discuss other affordable and sustainable solutions to address traffic congestion at the border,” said the two countries in a joint statement then.
Malaysia had made the request to suspend the project due to concerns about the cost.
Set to connect Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru to Woodlands, the RTS Link was supposed to be completed by 2024 but fell behind schedule due to Malaysia’s repeated delays in confirming its joint venture partner.
Addressing the media at Singapore’s Ministry of Transport in May, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and his Malaysian counterpart Anthony Loke recognised the “urgent need” to alleviate traffic congestion at the Johor Bahru-Singapore Causeway, which facilitates about 300,000 crossings daily.
Khaw said, “An RTS Link with a capacity of 10,000 passengers per direction per hour can make a material difference to commuters’ experience. Many Singaporeans and Malaysians stand to benefit from such a project. Singapore remains committed to it.”
He expressed hopes that the project would resume at the end of the suspension period, and noted that the decision to suspend the contract would affect the Land Transport Authority’s contractors and bidders involved in the project, as well as SMRT, which is Singapore’s joint venture partner for the RTS Link operator.