Woodlands Checkpoint to get makeover amid rising traffic needs

For many Malaysians who cross the border every day, Woodlands Town Centre is a convenient stop. Hours before the break of dawn, the old town centre situated next to the Causeway kicks into high gear.
An aerial shot of Old Woodlands Town Centre. The acquisition of two lots of private land - one housing Woodlands Point and another a childcare centre (behind the brown building in the centre) - will affect a total of three lessees and 14 tenants. The
An aerial shot of Old Woodlands Town Centre. The acquisition of two lots of private land - one housing Woodlands Point and another a childcare centre (behind the brown building in the centre) - will affect a total of three lessees and 14 tenants. They have 18 months to hand over the properties.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Two lots of land acquired to help with extension of facility for upgrading works

Woodlands Checkpoint (WCP), currently among the world's busiest land crossings, will be extended into the nearby Old Woodlands Town Centre as part of efforts to accommodate growing traffic needs and ensure secure immigration clearance.

Two lots of private land - one housing Woodlands Point and another a disused cinema - were acquired by the State yesterday for the extension, said the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).

The acquisitions will enable upgrading works to be progressively carried out at the WCP without compromising checkpoint operations, said the SLA and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

"Since the opening of WCP in 1999, traveller and vehicle volumes through WCP have been increasing over the years, while the security threat has heightened significantly," they said in a statement. "The WCP has to be upgraded to meet growing traffic needs and ensure that immigration clearance remains secure."

The WCP, along with the Tuas Checkpoint, are among the world's busiest, clearing up to 400,000 travellers daily - a number that touches 430,000 during festive peak periods.

The two lots acquired - each measuring 1,632 sq m - are to the east of the WCP and located at 268 and 270 Woodlands Centre Road.

ICA is conducting a feasibility study to determine the optimal design of the checkpoint extension and the extent of upgrading and redevelopment works required on the facility.

This will take into account the capacity of the checkpoint, overall traffic flow and upcoming developments such as the Johor Baru- Singapore Rapid Transit System, said ICA.

An agreement on the Rapid Transit System, a quick shuttle service from Johor Baru via Singapore's upcoming Thomson-East Coast MRT line, is set to be inked next year.

The latest acquisition will affect a total of three lessees and 14 tenants, said the SLA, adding that the Housing Board is the head lessee of both properties.

"Market value compensation as at the date of gazette will be paid," said a spokesman, adding that those affected will have 18 months - or up to Oct 1, 2018 - to hand over the properties. "SLA will work closely with the affected lessees and tenants, and assist them throughout the acquisition process," added the spokesman.

Among the lessees is C.J. Management & Development, which runs Woodlands Point. The company did not respond to queries on the acquisition yesterday.

The announcement did not come as a surprise to most tenants and residents, who had noticed growing traffic jams in the area as well as thinning business at the sites being acquired.

When The Straits Times visited the affected areas yesterday, only seven shop units at the four-storey Woodlands Point were open.

The neighbouring 270 Woodlands Centre Road, which used to have an old cinema, now houses just a childcare centre.

Some remarked on the changing face of the area in the light of the acquisition. Said Mr K.M. Wong, 59, who works at a pool parlour at Woodlands Point: "It is a must for Singapore to develop. There is nothing to be sad about.

"Even the neighbouring blocks will eventually have to go too."

SEE TOP OF THE NEWS: Tenants, staff back land acquisition to extend checkpoint

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2017, with the headline 'Woodlands Checkpoint to get makeover amid rising traffic needs'. Print Edition | Subscribe