DPM Teo says checkpoint barriers to be checked daily, explains failure

A security barrier similar to that being used at the Woodlands Checkpoint. The barrier will be raised to stop vehicles attempting to escape from the checkpoint. Leaking hydraulic fluid had caused a barrier at the Woodlands Checkpoint to fail, allowin
A security barrier similar to that being used at the Woodlands Checkpoint. The barrier will be raised to stop vehicles attempting to escape from the checkpoint. Leaking hydraulic fluid had caused a barrier at the Woodlands Checkpoint to fail, allowing a man to crash through it in March. -- FILE PHOTO: ICA

LEAKING hydraulic fluid had caused a barrier at the Woodlands Checkpoint to fail, allowing a man to crash through it in March.

To ensure that the barriers function properly, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority will replace all hydraulic components in its security barriers, and will also now conduct daily checks on them, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Monday in Parliament.

He was responding to questions by MPs Hri Kumar (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) and Zaqy Mohamed (Chua Chu Kang GRC), who asked about what was being done to prevent checkpoint breaches at Woodlands after two incidents in the past few months.

In March, a 64-year-old Singapore permanent resident drove his car over a security barrier at the checkpoint. Two months earlier, a Malaysian teacher tailgated another car, avoiding the detection of officers to cross the border.

Mr Teo revealed on Monday that during the March 8 incident, the hydraulic fluid had leaked from one of the cylinder seals for raising and maintaining the position of the security barrier.

This is why it failed to stop the Malaysian from driving his car through the barrier after being stopped for a boot check.

The man, Tan Chu Seng, has since been charged for committing a rash act and vandalism. He is said to have damaged the cat-claw security barrier during the incident.

Mr Teo said yesterday that the barriers are checked every three months, and had just been serviced on Feb 18 this year.

Since the incident, the ICA has also put in place other measures to strengthen security at Woodlands Checkpoint, including tightening the coordination between ICA and the Police and deploying mobile crash barriers. Tracking vehicles will also be added, to stop cars from fleeing if they manage to breach the barriers, said Mr Teo.

He said the ICA achieve swift and secure clearance of people and goods and it was not easy to strike a balance.

That is why the ICA has also enhanced its clearance systems. By the middle of this year, all work permit and S-Pass holders will be automatically enrolled on ICA's automated clearance systems, making 95 per cent of all Malaysian motorcycle trips eligible for automated clearance.

"This will help us to strike a better balance between speed of clearance as well as tight security," said Mr Teo.