MP: Johor Baru-Singapore link viable and urgent project

A view of the proposed Rapid Transit System Link project area in Johor Baru.

JOHOR BARU: The Johor Baru- Singapore Rapid Transit System Link project is a much more viable and urgent project compared with reviving the crooked bridge or a third bridge project with the island republic.

Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim said this project would help ease the congestion on the Causeway, which was bad during peak hours.

“I feel that both governments should find ways to get this project started to benefit all and also as a symbolic gesture that our relations are good.

“We do not need to politicise the matter as the people are suffering daily due to the congestion on both sides of the Causeway,” he said, adding that the RTS would benefit a lot of people and would cost lower than building the crooked bridge along the Johor Causeway or even the third bridge into Singapore.

He added that he had raised the matter on the RTS project in Parliament last month and was optimistic the project would start eventually based on the favourable response from the Transport Minister.

Hassan, who is also Johor PKR chief, said every day thousands of people commute between both countries, with some stuck in the jams for up to two hours daily.

“There is a lot of time and money wasted due to the congestion. It is also dangerous for motorcyclists, especially during rainy weather,” he said.

Hassan Abdul Karim

He said this in response to speculation that the RTS project might be shelved indefinitely after Malaysia requested for a six-month deadline extension to respond to Singapore on matters related to it.

It is learnt that if the project was shelved, Malaysia will have to pay Singapore compensation which is expected to run into millions as work has begun in the republic.

The project agreement, signed in early 2018, was initially scheduled for construction this year and expected to be completed by December 2024.

It will cover 4km of rail between Bukit Chagar, Johor Baru and Woodlands, Singapore, with the capacity to ferry 10,000 passengers an hour.

The RTS Link project will run above ground in Johor and on a 25m-high bridge track across the straits before travelling underground to Woodlands North.

It was reported that commuters were expected to spend about 30 minutes to travel and clear Customs and Immigration.

Based on a study by SPAD in 2016, an average of 4,000 buses, 52,000 cars and 72,000 motorcycles spend at least an hour to get across the Causeway.

Johor Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation Committee chairman Mazlan Bujang, when contacted, also said the project will help to ease congestion at the Johor Causeway.

“This is a Federal Government project. But there are still issues with regards to land acquisition and compensation,” he said, adding that they hoped to iron out all this for the project to start.

On congestion, he said the Malaysian Immigration Department should immediately deploy additional personnel to man all the counters.

“We have made our recommendations but the counters are still not fully operational. We need the manpower and I hope the Home Ministry will look into this matter,” he said.

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