SUL­TAN’S CON­CERNS AC­KNOWL­EDGED

We’ll seek au­di­ence with the sul­tan soon, says Rahman

New Straits Times - - News - ARFA YUNUS KUALA LUMPUR news@nst.com.my

MIN­IS­TER in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Depart­ment Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan yes­ter­day ac­knowl­edged con­cerns raised by the Sul­tan of Jo­hor Sul­tan Ibrahim Sul­tan Iskan­dar on the Rapid Tran­sit Sys­tem (RTS) JB-Sin­ga­pore project.

He said he would seek an au­di­ence with the sul­tan as soon the palace agreed to a date.

In a state­ment yes­ter­day, Rahman said a se­ries of ex­ten­sive stud­ies was con­ducted on the pro­posed project, which cov­ered as­pects such as the tech­ni­cal, align­ment and vi­a­bil­ity of the project.

“Malaysia and Sin­ga­pore can look for­ward to bet­ter con­nec­tiv­ity and ac­ces­si­bil­ity once the pro­posed RTS project, which will con­nect Jo­hor Baru and Sin­ga­pore, ma­te­ri­alises in 2024.

“The RTS would take the pres­sure off the Cause­way and save jour­ney time as it would be a sta­tion-to-sta­tion con­nec­tiv­ity, with in­te­grated Cus­toms and Im­mi­gra­tion check­points.”

Sul­tan Ibrahim had raised con­cerns over the pro­posed RTS rail track, in­clud­ing an el­e­vated bridge, link­ing Wood­lands, Sin­ga­pore, and Bukit Cha­gar, Jo­hor Baru.

He said the pro­posed curved de­sign of the track, as well as the el­e­vated bridge, was im­prac­ti­cal, un­sus­tain­able and po­ten­tially costly. It would also dis­rupt the sky­line along the Straits of Jo­hor.

“We ac­knowl­edge the is­sues and con­cerns raised by His Royal High­ness Sul­tan of Jo­hor, and will seek an im­me­di­ate au­di­ence with His Royal High­ness as soon as the palace has con­firmed the date.”

The RTS rail link was an­nounced by the Malaysian and Sin­ga­porean gov­ern­ments seven years ago to pro­vide an al­ter­na­tive to the 80,000 to 100,000 peo­ple who com­mute via the Malaysia-Sin­ga­pore Cause­way daily.

The RTS is ex­pected to ac­com­mo­date up to 10,000 pas­sen­gers an hour in each di­rec­tion be­tween its ter­mi­nus sta­tions at Wood­lands and Bukit Cha­gar.

On the Sin­ga­pore side, the rail link will join the repub­lic’s mass rapid tran­sit at its up­com­ing Thom­son East Coast line (TEL). The 31-sta­tion TEL project will open in phases from 2019 to 2024.

Jo­hor Men­teri Be­sar Datuk Seri Mo­hamed Khaled Nordin said the state gov­ern­ment sup­ported the view of the sul­tan that the de­vel­op­ment needed tweak­ing.

He said the state gov­ern­ment was aware of the ruler’s take on the project, es­pe­cially when he pointed out the de­sign flaws in the project, in­clud­ing a crooked rail­way track align­ment and the 30m el­e­vated bridge, which he saw as un­fit as it would block the Jo­hor sky­line.

“We recog­nise the con­cerns that the Sul­tan of Jo­hor has raised about the project, and will for­ward his con­cerns and sug­ges­tions to the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment for se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion.”

He said terms of the de­tail­ing and de­vel­op­ment spec­i­fi­ca­tions of the RTS project were open to changes as the dis­cus­sion be­tween Malaysia and Sin­ga­pore was on­go­ing.

Umno’s Jo­hor Baru mem­ber of par­lia­ment Tan Sri Shahrir Sa­mad also agreed with the sul­tan, and dis­agreed with the pro­posed de­sign.

“There are a lot of peo­ple who do not like the curve-shaped de­sign. I thought I was the only who did not like it.

“When we talk about bridges, usu­ally it must be one that is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble, not a curve or crooked one.”

Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan

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