JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong has assured Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, that the Rapid Transit System Link (RTS) between Johor Baru and Singapore will be completed within the stipulated time frame.
In a video presented during the virtual ground-breaking ceremony of the mega project and posted on his Facebook page on Sunday (Nov 22), Datuk Seri Wee said that the project would bring maximum positive impact to the people of Johor.
"As the representative of the Transport Ministry, which is the overseer of the project, I assure the commitment of the government in making sure that the project would be carried out effectively and in an organised manner, while also being completed by the set time, which is by 2026," he said.
He said the ministry hoped the project would bring positive economic impact to industries such as tourism and real estate, especially in Johor.
In a separate Facebook post, Mr Wee said that the 4km RTS Link functions as a cost-effective transportation system that promises to boost connectivity.
He said it would also provide easy, fast and comfortable access to the people who travel across the Malaysia-Singapore border.
"This would also solve the traffic congestion problem faced at the entry points of both countries that has been going on for years," he said.
Once completed, the journey between Bukit Chagar station in Johor and Woodlands North station in Singapore will take only five minutes.
The RTS can ferry up to 288,000 people per day.
Malaysia - through the Transport Ministry - will be forking out RM3.715 billion (S$1.22 billion) or 39 per cent of the total cost of the 4km link project, with the balance to be borne by Singapore.
Those commuting with the RTS Link would have to go through Immigration clearance only once, at the point of departure - either at Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru or Woodlands in Singapore.
Meanwhile, Johor residents are excited that the project has finally started, as many have been waiting for it for more than a decade.
Businessman S. Sures, 48, is glad to see the project progress.
"It will really help improve connectivity and allow Johor, especially its city Johor Baru, to benefit from the higher number of visitors from Singapore entering through the RTS.
"Most local businesses are highly dependent on visitors from Singapore. The RTS will definitely bring positive economic growth to the state, including for small businesses like mine," said the owner of a shop selling clothes and textiles.
"Easy access to public transportation across the border will help the state recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. It will probably take years for us to recover.
"If the project is completed as scheduled, which is by 2026, it can help us rebuild the economy," he said.
Restaurant owner Tan Kim Hock, 58, anticipated the RTS Link would bring more customers from the island republic to his shop, as well as make it easier for him to visit his family members in Singapore.
"The congestion at the Causeway and Second Link has been a huge problem. I have, at times, cancelled trips to Singapore due to the traffic. I hope the RTS Link can end my travel woes," he said.
Taxi driver Abdul Razak Abd Rahman, 57, said the RTS would help boost the tourism industry in Johor.
"I think it would not only bring positive spillover impacts on Johor Baru but also other districts in the state, such as Mersing and Kota Tinggi, that are famous for its beaches and islands, " he said.
Primary school teacher Ngoi Fee Min, 38, said the RTS is highly anticipated, as it means that those working in Singapore can come home more often without having to sit through hours of traffic on the Causeway.
She said her husband, a technical team manager, commuted to and fro between Johor Baru and Singapore daily but decided to stay in the island republic, as he got tired of the traffic jam.
"Hopefully with the RTS, my husband can move back home and we can spend more time together as a family.
"Besides that, students who study in Singapore can also benefit from this, as they do not need to wake up at 3am or 4am just to beat the jam to travel across the Causeway," said Ms Ngoi, a mother of two.