Long wait at Johor Customs leads to al fresco dinner

A posting on Facebook showing tourists eating packed food during a long wait to clear Customs at the Sultan Abu Bakar Complex in Johor.
A posting on Facebook showing tourists eating packed food during a long wait to clear Customs at the Sultan Abu Bakar Complex in Johor.PHOTO: IVY CHEE/ FACEBOOK

JOHOR BARU • A netizen said to be a tour guide has posted on Facebook that tourists entering Malaysia had to wait seven hours for Customs clearance, and ended up having packed dinners.

The posting last Thursday included photos of the Sultan Abu Bakar Building in Johor where the Customs department is located, showing tissue paper strewn around the toilet and trash bin.

The netizen said the photos were taken by tourists, and remarked that tourist arrivals helped to increase revenue for the country but he is upset that tourists are being made to wait for long hours.

The Johor government's Sultan Abu Bakar Complex (KSAB) operations task force chairman Cheo Yee How and Johor Women Development and Tourism Committee chairman Liow Cai Tung expressed regret over the incident during a press conference last Friday.

Both urged travel operators to work with the state government to avoid having tourists spend long hours waiting for clearance at the KSAB checkpoint.

Malaysian Tourist Guides Council president Leong Wie Kong, who was also present at the press conference, said the incidents of tourists eating packed food by the road side and performing fitness dancing to pass the time while waiting for Custom clearance are isolated cases.

It is believed the tourists became bored after they waited two to three hours, and were trying to attract the authorities' attention.

He said complaints lodged about congestion at Custom checkpoints are mainly from tour operators outside Johor. He also said the public amenities at KSAB needed upgrading as the facilities are unable to cope with the volume of traffic.

Mr Yang Fu Lai, another tour operator, said he would arrange for tourists to have dinner in Singapore, and avoid entering Malaysia during after-work peak hours whenever he arranged visits to Forest City for tourists from China.

He pointed out that 60 to 70 tour buses enter Malaysia through the Second Link daily, and the number of tour buses may increase to 100 and 150 during the weekends.

Ms Liow said that for safety reasons, tourists are not supposed to leave the bus and wander around the checkpoint area.

She stressed that the Johor state government views the issue seriously and a task force has prepared a report for the federal government - Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Home Affairs and the Prime Minister's Department - asking that facilities in the building be upgraded.

"For a short-term solution, the authorities would be arranging for volunteer police to assist in traffic," she said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2019, with the headline 'Long wait at Johor Customs leads to al fresco dinner'. Subscribe