Malaysia granted request to extend decision on JB-Singapore rail link

KUALA LUMPUR • The deadline for Malaysia to decide on the RM4 billion (S$1.3 billion) Rapid Transit System (RTS) project to link Johor Baru and Singapore has been extended by one more month.

It was learnt that the Malaysian government made the request for the extension at a recent meeting.

The initial six-month grace period granted by Singapore was to expire tomorrow.

Officials said Transport Minister Anthony Loke made the request when he met his Singapore counterpart Khaw Boon Wan in Sepang, saying Malaysia needed more time to review the project.

It was also learnt that Singapore's decision to grant the extension was conveyed to Malaysia last Friday.

Sources said there were no financial implications for Malaysia with the extra time granted, but just for this time. "If there is any further extension sought, Singapore will reserve the right to make backdated claims for damages after work on the project was suspended," said a source.

In March, Malaysia requested a six-month extension to respond to Singapore on issues relating to the project. Then in May, both countries agreed to suspend work on the RTS link until Sept 30.

Both governments signed a bilateral agreement last year to build the 4km cross-border MRT link from Woodlands in Singapore to Bukit Chagar in Johor to help alleviate congestion on the Causeway.

Malaysia wanted to find new ways to reduce the cost of the RTS, including getting the private sector to fund and operate it.

Singapore's Transport Ministry said it was possible for Malaysia to defer deadlines and review parameters on the project. However, it said this had to be done within agreed terms and with the mutual consent of both countries. Mr Khaw had said the RTS link project was "behind schedule" as Malaysia had missed several deadlines.

The completion date for the rail link will likely be delayed beyond the original target of Dec 31, 2024.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 29, 2019, with the headline 'Malaysia granted request to extend decision on JB-S'pore rail link'. Print Edition | Subscribe