Private investors keen on RTS project, says Loke

Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook and his Singapore counterpart, Khaw Boon Wan (second and third from left), being briefed on the proposed RTS Woodlands North site in Singapore today. (Bernama pic.)

SINGAPORE: The Malaysian government has received a number of proposals from private investors in connection with the Rapid Transit System (RTS) linking Johor and Singapore, said Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook.

“Yes, we are in talks with some private investors. There are various proposals. We are still looking at those proposals,” Loke told reporters during a visit to the proposed RTS Woodlands North site here today.

He was accompanied by his Singapore counterpart, Khaw Boon Wan.

Earlier today, Malaysia and Singapore signed a supplemental agreement to suspend the project until Sept 30.

Malaysia will reimburse Singapore about RM2 million by July 31 as abortive costs incurred as a result of the six-month suspension.

Loke said Putrajaya was looking at private sector involvement in the project, which would cost RM4 billion, to be borne by the government.

He said his visit to the site today gave him a better understanding of the entire project.

“Of course, it has to make sense to integrate both services from Johor Bahru to Singapore. Once we reached here, we have to integrate it or you have to connect it to the MRT system and that gives good connectivity.

“I have shared with the Singapore minister (Khaw) that equally important is the connectivity on the Johor Bahru side. The train will end at Bukit Chagar and connectivity to the entire Johor Bahru is important as well,” he said.

The 4km RTS link was planned to connect Bukit Chagar to the Woodlands North station on Singapore’s Thomson-East Coast MRT Line.

Loke noted that if the RTS project were to proceed, Bukit Chagar would become a transportation hub linking the whole of Johor Bahru with the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), a project proposed by the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda).

Irda was reportedly prepared to roll out a comprehensive plan for the RM2.56 billion BRT, aimed at easing congestion and pollution and encouraging more people to use public transport in the city.

Loke said he would update Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the rest of the Cabinet on the RTS at their next meeting.

During the suspension period, he said, Malaysia will decide if it intends to proceed with the project as originally planned or propose changes to the project scope and structure.

Malaysia, which asked for the suspension in April, would have to pay more than S$66 million (RM200 million) should it choose to terminate the project.