JOHOR BAHRU (April 17): Johor Corp (JCorp), the southern state’s biggest state-owned enterprise, is urging the federal government to expedite the development of the Johor Bahru-Singapore rapid transit system (RTS) link, as the corporation spearheads the rejuvenation of the central business district (CBD) in the state’s capital city.
Speaking to the media after the launch of the blueprint for the Ibrahim International Business District (IIBD) here yesterday, JCorp president and chief executive officer Datuk Kamaruzzaman Abu Kassim said the state needs the RTS link to rejuvenate the city’s economy.
“In terms of the needs of the RTS, I believe it should be done now, as IIBD stands to become one of the major beneficiaries. Of course, the benefits will not be just for the city centre, but also the people of Johor and Singapore as the system will facilitate movements.
“So, we see a lot of potential to encourage tourist arrivals as the country promotes healthcare tourism, ecotourism and many other aspects of tourism. So this is part of the new engine that will drive the economy,” said Kamaruzzaman.
On April 1, Transport Minister Anthony Loke announced that the federal government had requested a six-month extension from Singapore to decide on the RTS link, as the government was looking at the cost of the project and how it could be reduced further.
The RTS is a rapid rail link between Johor Bahru and Singapore, which will become the third land bridge between Malaysia and Singapore after the Johor-Singapore Causeway and the Second Link in Iskandar Puteri. It will have the capacity to carry 10,000 passengers per hour.
Though it is close to Singapore, a global financial and trade hub, Johor Bahru has not managed to capitalise on the stronger purchasing power of the city-state’s residents to grow its economy, partly due to the heavy traffic that often jams up the narrow Johor Strait.
Kamaruzzaman said that delay will be a setback to the redevelopment of Johor Bahru’s central business district (CBD) under the IIBD project. The RTS link will have its station in Bukit Chagar within the city’s CBD.
The RTS’ deferment makes it the second major infrastructure project involving Malaysia and Singapore that has been postponed after the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail project, which has been suspended until May 31, 2020.
The IIBD covers an area of about 250 acres (101.17ha), with an estimated gross development value of RM20 billion. It is a key node in Flagship Zone A of Iskandar Malaysia and pivotal to Johor’s bid to turn its capital city into a Malaysian world-class city after Kuala Lumpur.
The project, mooted by Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, will see the transformation of the CBD through the development of, among others, the Coronation Square — a RM3.5 billion mixed development comprising a medical suites tower, office towers, a hotel and a retail mall.
Other proposed projects within the IIBD include the redevelopment of the city’s prison into a RM500 million worth of lifestyle and commercial development called “The Molek”. Preservations and conservation of the heritage enclave within Johor Bahru’s old town is also within the IIBD blueprint.
In terms of connectivity, the IIBD blueprint calls for the upgrading of public infrastructure, including the provision of a city-link bridge for pedestrian linkages, and a flyover or elevated highway for the upgrading of the main traffic corridors in the city centre.
The city-link bridge is a 268m, fully air-conditioned pedestrian walkway that will connect JB Sentral to Persada Annexe — a four-storey, 83,000 sq ft retail complex dedicated to bumiputera entrepreneurs — through Komtar JBCC, the city’s premier shopping mall.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 17, 2019.