JOHOR BAHRU – About 2,300 vehicles an hour are now able to pass through immigration clearance on the Johor side of the Causeway, following short-term measures implemented by the Malaysian authorities.
Director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud of Malaysia’s Immigration Department said there had been improvements at the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar (BSI) Customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) complex after quick-response team (QRT) measures were put in place on Feb 6.
“The QRT, a short-term initiative implemented by the government to improve congestion issues, offers solutions like training and placing immigration staff at checkpoints to man the counters, especially during peak hours,” he said.
Previously, about 1,400 vehicles an hour could go through immigration clearance.
“Now, with QRT, we can process up to 2,300 vehicles in the same amount of time, if the motorists and passengers do not have clearance issues and have sufficient balance in their Touch ’n Go cards (for toll payments),” said Mr Khairul after visiting the CIQ complex on Sunday.
“Visitors who enter Johor via bus can also enjoy faster immigration clearance now that Singaporeans are also allowed to utilise the e-gate feature, which was previously limited to Malaysian passports,” he added.
“It used to take the authorities about four to five hours to clear the visitor arrival hall, which has a maximum capacity of 3,000 people. That time has now been shortened to about three hours to clear the same number of people.”
Mr Khairul said allowing Singaporeans to use the e-gate facilities at the CIQ complex had contributed to the overall improvement, though not many were aware of the new privilege.
Since Jan 20, when Singapore passport holders were allowed to use the e-gate facilities, only about 16,000 Singaporeans have used them, much lower than the department’s targeted 35,000.
Fliers will be handed out from this week to create more awareness among Singaporeans about the facilities, especially day trippers who visit Johor Bahru for shopping and other recreational activities, said Mr Khairul.
The QRT was first implemented at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and the second terminal, KLIA2, with a total of 45 staff before 71 staff were deployed at the Causeway and Second Link CIQs to overcome the problem of overcrowding and traffic congestion.
“Under the QRT initiative, the department’s staff from other units are trained and assigned to man checkpoints, but rest assured that it will not affect our standard operating procedure and workflow,” said Mr Khairul.
“We are also training more staff so that we can extend the initiative to the Bukit Kayu Hitam (Malaysia-Thailand) and Sungai Tujoh (Malaysia-Brunei) checkpoints soon. But the numbers will be smaller as those CIQs are not as big as the ones in Johor.”
Mr Khairul said another 20 e-gates will be set up at the BSI complex to provide more convenience.
“We expect the infrastructure to be completed by March to run the necessary installation and tests of the system, for it to be ready within 1½ months,” he added. THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK