KUALA LUMPUR: Johor residents told Channel NewsAsia they are looking forward to a rail project which will connect Johor Baru to Singapore in 30 minutes, although some are sceptical if the project will take off.
Malaysia and Singapore inked an agreement on Tuesday (Jan 16) to build a Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link by 2024, which could reduce congestion on the Causeway by up to 15 per cent.
Thousands of Malaysians cross the Causeway daily to work in Singapore. Zainab Jusoh, a housekeeping supervisor, was one of them until she grew tired of waking up at 3am to avoid hours-long traffic jams.
She has since moved to Singapore but told Channel NewsAsia she might move back once the RTS Link is constructed.
"If it's only 30 minutes with the train, I feel that's great, much better, " she said.
Albert Chin, who supplies workers to Singapore from Johor, feels the same.
"It's more convenient for all the commuters so that they can turn up to work in Singapore on time and do not need three or four hours in advance to prepare," he said.
Malaysian minister in the prime minister's department, Abdul Rahman Dahlan, told Channel NewsAsia on Tuesday that the promise of the project from Prime Minister Najib Razak's government would be a game changer in an election year, especially in Johor.
However, some Johoreans like David Lee are reserving his enthusiasm until the project is complete.
"It'll bring lots of people out from Singapore to JB and it's good for our economy," he said. "But I'm not sure if the project will be possible because they've delayed things a lot of times.
"They say they'll build within five years, but they never fulfil the promise."
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that his country is committed to the RTS Link and that the agreement signed this week was binding, regardless of any potential changes in government.
The project now has the backing of the Sultan of Johor too. The royal ruler had reservations last year about the initial design of a connecting bridge, fearing it would disrupt the city skyline. That design has since been updated.
"Instead of having a sort-of crooked bridge, now we have an alignment where it is parallel to the Causeway which is more pleasing to the eye," said Abdul Rahman.
Construction on the RTS Link is slated to begin in 2019, with each country appointing its own infrastructure company to fund, build, own, maintain and renew the civil infrastructure and stations.