Poser over land for RTS threatens to reignite Putrajaya’s spat with Johor palace

The Johor Bahru Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine Complex (CIQ). The Rapid Transport System has been planned to link the station in Bukit Chagar to Woodlands.

KUALA LUMPUR: A new problem over a plot of land linked to the construction of the 4km rail link between Johor Bahru and Singapore is threatening to open up another frontier in Putrajaya’s ongoing spat with the Johor palace.

This followed the discovery that one of five plots of land for the Rapid Transit System (RTS) project has been transferred to the Johor sultan, reliable sources told FMT.

Documents sighted by FMT among others stated that the change of title for the 4.5 hectare plot took place under the Barisan Nasional administration.

They also reveal that the land has now been leased out for three years till November 2020 for a company to operate a parking lot.

A source said the federal government would have to buy back the land, although it was part of a land swap deal with the state for the construction of the Johor Bahru Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine Complex (CIQ).

“This means Putrajaya would now have to pay up to half a billion ringgit in compensation for the land which was supposed to be owned by the federal government,” the source told FMT.

He added this will incur additional cost to the taxpayer to build the RTS.

The plot would have been part of the planned RTS, which will connect Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru to Woodlands in Singapore, a project aimed at easing the congestion on the Causeway.

Johor Menteri Besar Dr Sahruddin Jamal, when met after his meeting with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Kuala Lumpur today, carefully avoided the media who waited to get an explanation from him.

The government had said previously it was looking for options to ensure the RTS linking Johor Baru and Singapore remains on track, although both countries have agreed to suspend the project from April 1 based on Malaysia’s request.

In August 2017, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar criticised the RTS’ design of the curved tracks and the height of the elevated bridge, saying they would disrupt the Johor Bahru city skyline.

Three months later, he consented to the construction of a 25-metre-high RTS bridge straight across the Strait of Johor, following submission of three options on the RTS alignment based on his proposal.