Singapore

Singapore, Malaysia to defer RTS Link project until Sept 30

Singapore and Malaysia have agreed to defer construction of a cross-border MRT link until Sept 30.

Malaysia will reimburse Singapore more than $600,000 - for abortive costs incurred as a result of the six-month suspension of the planned 4km Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and his Malaysian counterpart Anthony Loke yesterday signed an agreement to formalise the suspension of the link, which will connect Woodlands North station on the Thomson-East Coast MRT Line to Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru.

At a joint media conference at the Transport Ministry's headquarters at PSA Building, Mr Khaw said Singapore hopes for the RTS project to resume after the suspension, either in the current form as prescribed in last year's bilateral agreement or incorporating any changes to the project scope that both sides agree on.

"If not, the RTS Link project will be deemed to have been terminated by Malaysia and Malaysia will reimburse Singapore for the costs we have incurred in fulfilling our RTS Link obligations till now," he said.

Malaysia will have to pay more than $66 million should it terminate the project.

Mr Khaw said the decision to suspend the RTS project will affect the Land Transport Authority's contractors and bidders involved in the development, as well as SMRT, Singapore's joint venture partner for the RTS operator.

In a joint statement following the signing, both countries said the transport ministers "recognised the urgent need" to alleviate traffic congestion at the Causeway, which sees about 300,000 crossings daily.

Singapore and Malaysia will also continue to discuss other "affordable and sustainable solutions to address traffic congestion at the border".

Asked how much Malaysia was looking to reduce the costs of the project by, Mr Loke said he could not give a number as discussions between the governments and ministries are ongoing.

"We are looking into getting the private sector to be involved in this project as well, so I think this is very much a commercial decision and I do not want to give any figure right now," he said.

Mr Khaw said the suspension would result in the RTS being delayed by a "couple of years", should both sides agree to proceed after September as per the bilateral agreement.

Transport