SINGAPORE: Singapore welcomes Malaysia's decision to proceed with the construction of the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link project, its Ministry of Transport (MOT) said on Thursday (Oct 31).
The comments came after Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said at a press conference earlier in the day that the project will go ahead, with the estimated cost cut by about one-third.
The announcement ended months of uncertainty over the deal. Last May, Singapore and Malaysia agreed to suspend works on the RTS link, which would address the traffic congestion on the Causeway, until Sep 30.
As part of the agreement, Malaysia agreed to reimburse Singapore around S$600,000 in abortive costs.
In September, the suspension was extended at no extra cost for another month to Oct 31.
"Singapore welcomes Malaysia's decision to proceed with the project," said MOT in a press release on Thursday evening.
"Both sides are now discussing the changes to the project, which Malaysia is proposing in order to reduce the project cost.
"As the changes will require amendments to the RTS Link Agreement, the discussions will take some time. Both sides are working hard on this," it added.
A spokesperson said in response to queries from CNA that it has requested further details from Malaysia on the proposed changes.
In his press conference, Dr Mahathir said that he estimated the project to cost RM3.16 billion (S$1.03 billion), which is RM1.77 billion or 36 per cent less than the original cost of RM4.93 billion.
At a separate event, Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke said Malaysia has submitted an official proposal to the Singapore Government and will await Singapore to go through it before things are finalised.
He explained that Malaysia's proposal will reduce construction costs and result in affordable fares for commuters. The RTS will still serve up to 10,000 passengers per hour. It will be a system that is similar to the Light Rail Transit in Kuala Lumpur.
Mr Loke said he expects the final agreement for the project to be signed early next year.