SINGAPORE: The deadline for Singapore’s SMRT Corporation and Malaysia’s Prasarana Malaysia to form a joint venture company to become the operator of the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link has been missed, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in Parliament on Monday (Jul 9).
Mr Khaw said the deadline to do so was Jun 30, but it did not happen as Prasarana Malaysia suspended discussions with SMRT after the country’s general election earlier in May this year.
“This means that both countries should now proceed to call an open, international tender to appoint the RTS Link operator, unless we mutually agree on a postponement of the deadline,” he added.
Mr Khaw also pointed to a Channel NewsAsia report on May 30 citing Malaysia Transport Minister Anthony Loke who said the RTS project will proceed, although the government will “restudy the project in terms of cost and so on”.
"I was made to understand that the cost of the project is RM4 billion (US$1 billion) for the Malaysian government but of course we are looking at how to reduce cost ... we have just made the decision, we have to initiate negotiations and discussions with our counterparts in Singapore,” Mr Loke said during the May 30 interview.
The RTS Link was mooted to ease congestion at the land checkpoints and make it more convenient for people to travel between both countries.
Mr Khaw said Singapore will continue to work with Malaysia to reduce congestion through other means in the meantime.
He pointed to how both countries lowered the tolls during off-peak hours at Tuas Checkpoint to encourage motorists to travel outside the peak periods earlier this year. Singapore also agreed to Malaysia’s suggestion to increase the number of KTMB Tebrau Shuttle services from 26 to 31 daily since mid-February, he added.
“These measures have helped to alleviate the congestion but are not the complete solution. We look forward to the completion and operation of the RTS Link, which will be able to transport 10,000 travellers per direction per hour between Singapore and JB,” the minister said.