JOHOR BAHRU: The Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link project will bring huge economic benefits to the southern state of Johor, while easing the long-standing traffic congestion problem at the Causeway, said Malaysian Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong on Thursday (Jul 30).
Speaking to reporters after a ceremony at the Causeway to mark the official resumption of the project, Dr Wee said that the construction of the depot in Wadi Hana will create 1,500 jobs, as the project creates a “tremendous spin-off effect” on the local economy.
“It will provide consultancy packages to local contractors and civil work. Locals can participate in terms of material supply.
“When the construction activities start here, 150 supporting industries will benefit. With such a huge amount of money spent here, definitely a spin-off effect will be felt by the local people,” he said.
The ceremony was witnessed by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his counterpart Mr Muhyiddin Yassin.
The total cost of the RTS project, which was earlier suspended at Malaysia’s request, is estimated at RM10 billion (S$3.24 billion). Both governments have agreed to a split of 61:39, with Malaysia forking out RM3.716 billion for the project.
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For Malaysia, the project will be funded by the development expenditure allocated to the Ministry of Transport over a span of six years from 2021 to 2026, Dr Wee said.
There is an urgent need for the RTS Link to solve the traffic congestion at the Causeway, Dr Wee said.
“Without this service, time is wasted. There are congestion costs … this is among the issues we keep hearing in Johor.”
A FIVE-MINUTE TRAIN RIDE
Of the 4km line connecting Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru and Woodlands in Singapore, an elevated stretch of 2.7km will stand within Malaysian boundary, Dr Wee said.
The line will go underground as it reaches Singapore, he added.
With a capacity of up to 10,000 passengers per hour per direction, the RTS Link is expected to carry up to 300,000 passengers a day.
“The journey time is only five minutes,” the minister said. “During peak hours, we will provide trains (at an interval of) 3.6 minutes. You can imagine, it’s less than four minutes we have one train. During non-peak, it’s six minutes.”
For the purpose of customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) clearance, a new CIQ facility will be built for passengers of the RTS Link, separate from the existing CIQ, he added.
According to the revised bilateral agreements, the depot of the project has been switched from the existing Thomson-East Coast Line Mandai depot in Singapore to a new location in Wadi Hana in Johor Bahru.
“This depot is jointly owned by Malaysia and Singapore. It will be cordoned off, a secured area. It's well protected,” Dr Wee said.
The RTS Link project was meant to be completed in 2024, but work was suspended.
The suspension was extended three times at Malaysia's request, with the latest extension until Jul 31 due to Singapore's COVID-19 "circuit breaker" measures and Malaysia's movement control order.
However, both sides have been in intensive discussions on the project over the last six months to conclude negotiations by the Jul 31 deadline. The project is now slated to be completed by end-2026.