Singapore agrees to suspend construction of RTS Link till 30 September

Malaysia and Singapore officially signed the supplemental agreement (SA) for suspension of the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link Project until 30 September 2019 at Malaysia’s request, Singapore Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said on 21 May 2019, reported by Channel News Asia.

Under a supplemental agreement signed between both governments on Tuesday, Malaysia will also reimburse Singapore for the abortive costs incurred—approximately SGD600,000—due to the suspension, Khaw said during a press conference with his Malaysian counterpart, Anthony Loke.

Commenting on the SGD600,000 abortive costs, Khaw said these are costs incurred by Singapore that cannot be recouped even if the project is restarted, such as the money spent on the construction site at Woodlands North.

Loke revealed that the abortive costs must be paid by 31 July 2019.

During the suspension period, Malaysia will decide if it intends to proceed with the RTS Link project as it is. Malaysia can also propose changes to the project scope, and Singapore will give any such changes due consideration, he added.

A bilateral agreement on the RTS Link was signed in January last year during the previous Barisan Nasional administration. The project was initially scheduled for construction this year and expected to be completed by December 2024.

The RTS Link project would cover 4 kilometres of rail linking Bukit Chagar (Johor Baru) and Woodlands (Singapore), with the capacity to ferry 10,000 passengers per hour. It was aimed at addressing congestion in the daily commute between the two countries.

According to Loke, under the original agreement, the one-way fare was set at RM15 and would burden some Malaysians who travel daily to Singapore for work.

Loke also expressed his appreciation of Singapore’s support and understanding on the challenges faced by Malaysia in implementing the RTS Link project.

According to him, throughout a year he has met his counterpart six times as they discussed ways on resolving bilateral issues including the RTS.

“We recognize the urgent need to alleviate the traffic congestion at the Johor Bahru-Singapore Causeway which facilitates about 300,000 crossings daily affecting approximately 250,000 Malaysians working in Singapore,” he said.

Loke noted that the supplemental agreement would allow Malaysia some time to explore other affordable and sustainable solutions to address traffic congestion at the border.

“These include new initiatives such as improvements to the physical infrastructure at the border, review of inter-boundary policies and regulations and enhancing the quality of cross-border services,” he said.

In a joint statement, both ministers recognised the urgent need to alleviate traffic congestion at the Johor Bahru-Singapore Causeway.

Both countries will continue to discuss other affordable and sustainable solutions to address traffic congestion at the border.

“We will also explore further initiatives, including the use of new technology for enhanced security and checkpoint efficiency,” it said.

The ministers also noted the importance for both countries to establish cost-effective, efficient and sustainable transport interconnectivity, as it will foster greater people-to-people ties and generate shared economic and social benefits.  — Construction+ Online