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Malaysia confident of meeting July 31 deadline for RTS project

Johor Bahru

MALAYSIA is confident of meeting Singapore's July 31 deadline for the Rapid Transit System (RTS) project, which will link Singapore's Woodlands North station on the Thomson-East Coast Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line with Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru.

Senior Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali said there were 222 unresolved issues on the project.

"However, both countries have successfully solved 220 issues pertaining to the RTS project. We only have two more issues where a technical committee will meet up on July 13 to discuss them," he was quoted as saying by The Star after attending a roundtable discussion with local industry players on Saturday.

Mr Azmin, who is International Trade and Industry Minister, declined to elaborate on the two remaining issues, which he will leave to the technical committee to discuss which needed approval from both countries.

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"I have spoken to the Transport Ministry and was given the assurance that both teams will be able to resolve the two remaining issues," he said.

"This is important because we been given until the end of this month to conclude the whole process of negotiation pertaining to the RTS."

Mr Azmin stressed that the RTS project was important, particularly for Malaysians who travel daily into and from Singapore for work and to ease congestion at the Causeway.

Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad, who was present during the discussion, said the latest development was good news to the state.

"The RTS will finally become a reality and it would be a game changer for Johor, " he said, adding that the project would help create a supply chain involving various sectors here.

On June 22, Singapore's Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said discussions with Malaysia about the construction of RTS Link were still ongoing, with a final deadline of July 31.

The rail line project has been suspended since April last year to allow Malaysia to review the project and suggest changes for Singapore's consideration.

Mr Khaw said: "Even as we battle Covid-19, in parallel, we press on with many other important tasks, including our bilateral discussions with Malaysia on both the High Speed Rail and the RTS Link projects."

"In fact, the RTS Link discussions - over teleconferencing - have been intensive, often running into the night, as the negotiators are mindful of the end-July deadline," he said.

He added that he hopes a successful outcome can be achieved soon.

Mr Khaw had said in November last year that Singapore and Malaysia will need to sign three agreements by the end of April this year on the cross-border RTS Link, after three suspensions to the project.

The project was first announced in 2010.

The deadline was pushed for a fourth time to end-July, due to factors such as the change of government in Malaysia and the Covid-19 crisis.

A bilateral agreement was signed in January 2018 to build the link by Dec 31, 2024.

Construction on the project was originally planned to have started last year.

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