Third bridge to Singapore? How about building RTS now? Najib asks

Datuk Seri Najib Razak speaks to reporters at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur March 25, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Datuk Seri Najib Razak speaks to reporters at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur March 25, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — Opposition politician Datuk Seri Najib Razak today questioned the government’s delay in starting the construction of the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) that aims to improve traffic connectivity between both countries.

The Pekan MP said the 4km long rail link would alleviate the daily border congestion if the government proceeds with building the project this year as scheduled instead of holding talks on building another bridge to accommodate vehicle crossings.

“Agreement from Singapore is already there. The agreement has been signed. Why wait any longer?” he asked in a Facebook post in response to recent news reports citing both Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng on the government’s interest in building more bridges to Singapore.

The RTS project linking Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru and Woodlands North in Singapore was signed early last year during the Barisan Nasional administration when Najib was prime minister.

The rail project was scheduled for construction this year and expected to be completed in 2024 to remedy the congestion woes of some 300,000 people who commute across the Johor Strait daily.

The RTS is touted to be capable of carrying up to 60,000 passengers one way an hour during peak travel times.

Singapore’s Acting Minister for Transport Vivian Balakrishnan said in the republic’s Parliament on March 7 that Malaysia sought another deadline extension to today as it needed more time to confirm its joint venture partner for the RTS Link Operating Company (OpCo).

The deadline has been changed four times previously, from last June to last September and again last December before a new date on February 28.

Without confirming a partner, the OpCo cannot be incorporated and the concession agreement between Malaysia’s Land Transport Authority and its Singapore counterpart cannot be signed.

Malaysia’s Transport Minister Anthony Loke was reported by national news wire Bernama as saying last July that the project is on track, but that detailed information and its cost — estimated at RM4 billion — will need Cabinet approval before construction can proceed.

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