Rail link deadline: Singapore agrees to KL request

Singapore has agreed to Malaysia's request for an additional one-month suspension of the Rapid Transit System (RTS) project in the spirit of bilateral cooperation, and also to waive additional costs incurred during the period, said a Ministry of Transport (MOT) spokesman.

But Singapore reserves the right to claim additional costs incurred beyond Sept 30, should Malaysia request any further extensions to the suspension period, which now ends on Oct 31.

Both governments signed an 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.

In March, Malaysia requested a six-month extension to respond to Singapore on issues relating to the RM4 billion (S$1.3 billion) project.

Then in May, both countries agreed to suspend work on the RTS link until Sept 30.

As part of the deal, Malaysia agreed to reimburse Singapore over $600,000 for abortive costs incurred as a result of the six-month suspension.

In a Straits Times report in May, Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke said that his government was looking at ways to reduce the cost of the RTS, including roping in the private sector.

Reducing infrastructure costs would lower the fare structure in future, which would benefit passengers, Mr Loke added.

Last Saturday, Malaysia's The Star newspaper reported that the deadline was extended by another month after Mr Loke made the request at a recent meeting with his Singapore counterpart Khaw Boon Wan in Sepang.

 
 

Mr Loke reportedly said Malaysia needed more time to review the project, and that Singapore's decision to grant the extension was conveyed to Malaysia last Friday.

Malaysia's request triggered a mixed response from its politicians, with one camp saying that the government would get more time to study the impact of the project on the country's debt while some questioned the need to ask for more time.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2019, with the headline 'Rail link deadline: S'pore agrees to KL request'. Print Edition | Subscribe