Soon: Faster clearance for motorcyclists at checkpoints

Long queues even at 5.30am as motorcyclists bound for Singapore wait for their turn at the Woodlands checkpoint. Under the tender for the two land checkpoints, at least 110 motorcycles should be cleared per hour per lane when all lanes are in operati
Long queues even at 5.30am as motorcyclists bound for Singapore wait for their turn at the Woodlands checkpoint. Under the tender for the two land checkpoints, at least 110 motorcycles should be cleared per hour per lane when all lanes are in operation.ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

More automated counters by next year will also cut congestion: MHA

Motorcyclists entering and leaving Singapore by the land checkpoints will have an easier time by the end of next year.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has put up a tender for the installation of more automated clearance facilities for motorcyclists, to tackle rising traveller numbers. The biometric system will allow travellers to independently scan thumbprints and have passports verified by a machine.

A spokesman for the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) told The Straits Times this week: "These automated counters will significantly speed up motorcycle immigration clearance, and help reduce congestion."

The system will also allow ICA to "re-deploy officers to other critical tasks, such as screening travellers with high-risk profiles", she added.

In the tender put up last month, ICA said it plans to equip existing manual motorcycle counters with automated clearance facilities, on top of adding more of such counters.

It also aims to replace existing automated counters that can clear only a single rider with counters that can clear both the biker and the pillion rider at one go.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean said in Parliament last month that automated counters would speed up motorcycle immigration clearance by as much as 30 per cent.

Currently, there are 105 manual and 43 automated counters for motorcyclists at the two checkpoints combined.

Automated counters for bikers were introduced in 2006 at Tuas and 2007 at Woodlands.

ICA said there will be 164 automated counters by the end of next year. The project will take place over three phases.

Each clearance lane will also have features such as drop-arm barriers and surveillance cameras.

The tender stated that at least 110 motorcycles should be cleared per hour per lane when all lanes are in operation.

More than 72,000 motorcycles go through the checkpoints daily, said DPM Teo last year.

In addition, the tender called for measures to detect and prevent tailgating among motorcyclists, noting that it was a common problem.

ICA also told The Straits Times: "ICA leverages on technology to facilitate timely immigration clearance, so as to cope with the growing number of travellers without compromising security."

For example, the average number of foreign vehicles arriving here per day went up to 54,000 last year, from 53,000 in 2013, according to figures from the Land Transport Authority. Of the foreign vehicles entering Singapore last year, about seven in 10 were motorcycles.

Malaysian Lim Poh Teong, 35, who lives in Johor Baru and works here as a mechanic, arrives on his motorbike at Tuas at around 6.30am and takes 30 minutes to clear customs. It can go up to an hour in the evening.

He said in Mandarin: "To be honest, it's already efficient. But if it's going to be even faster, of course I will be happy because the journey will be less tiring."

limyihan@sph.com.sg