.KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and Singapore have reached “an understanding” over the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link project, Malaysia’s Transport Minister Anthony Loke said on Monday (Aug 19).
His remarks come ahead of a Sep 30 deadline for the deferment of the project, which had been suspended at Malaysia's request.
Speaking to reporters at the fourth annual China-Malaysia Port Alliance Meeting, Mr Loke said that both governments are currently working out the details, local media reported.
“We know that the RTS is important and we are currently working behind the scenes," Mr Loke was cited as saying in the Edge.
“In fact, I met with Singaporean Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan last month, and we have some sort of an understanding,” he added.
An announcement will be made once the details are ironed out, Mr Loke said.
In response to queries from CNA, Singapore's Ministry of Transport said that discussions are ongoing to discuss possible ways forward.
"Singapore and Malaysia’s Transport Ministers have been discussing possible ways forward for the RTS Link Project. As discussions are ongoing, we are unable to comment further," a ministry spokesperson said.
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The 4.2km RTS Link, which connects Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru to Woodlands in Singapore, is expected to ferry up to 10,000 passengers per hour each way.
The project was meant to be completed by 2024, but is now behind schedule with Malaysia repeatedly delaying confirmation of its joint venture partner.
According to a bilateral agreement signed in January 2018, a joint venture company comprising Singapore’s SMRT and Malaysia’s Prasarana Malaysia should have been constituted by Jun 30 last year.
The joint venture company should also have been appointed as the RTS Link operator (OpCo) through a concession agreement with Singapore’s Land Transport Authority and the government of Malaysia by Sep 30, 2018.
Both milestones were missed.
Putrajaya was supposed to confirm its venture partner on Mar 31, but had requested for a six-month extension until Sep 30 to make a decision on the RTS project.
On May 21, Mr Loke and Mr Khaw signed a supplementary agreement in Singapore to defer the project.
Under the agreement, Malaysia will reimburse Singapore about S$600,000 in abortive costs due to the suspension.
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, Mr Khaw had said at the signing of the supplementary agreement.
The suspension would set back the completion date by “a couple of years”, he added.
Mr Loke had also said at the same event that Putrajaya would use the suspension period to discuss various options.
The cost of the project was a “major consideration”, he added, and Malaysia wanted to look at how the private sector could play a role in the project.