SULTAN’S CONCERNS ACKNOWLEDGED
We’ll seek audience with the sultan soon, says Rahman
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