Malaysia proposes letting travellers clear Customs once across Causeway

Under the proposed system, Customs clearance would be done only once, on either side of the border. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

JOHOR BAHRU – Malaysia has proposed a “single clearance system” to ease acute traffic snarls along the Johor Causeway linking the country with Singapore.

Johor works, transport and infrastructure committee chairman Mohamad Fazli Mohamad Salleh said that under this system, clearance would be done only once, on either side of the border.

“This means Singapore’s immigration officers will be stationed at our checkpoints in Johor to clear people entering the Republic, while Malaysian immigration personnel will be deployed in Singapore to clear those entering Malaysia,” he told The Star newspaper.

“This proposal is still at the initial stages. This will be similar to the system that will be used when the Rapid Transit System (RTS) operations begin in 2026.”

During the recent visit of Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to Singapore, Johor Menteri Besar Onn Hafiz Ghazi had urged that the traffic situation at the Causeway, one of the world’s busiest land crossings, be brought under control, saying that regular commuters, numbering about 150,000, were being greatly inconvenienced.

He said the majority of commuters had to get up at 4am to queue at the Johor Bahru border checkpoint by 5am, to get through the traffic gridlock for work or business and return late at night.

Mr Mohamad Fazli, who heads a multi-agency task force looking into easing congestion at the Causeway and Second Link in Tuas, said Johor was also seeking additional funds to increase motorcycle lanes from 50 to 75 each way.

He said there was also a proposal for lorry lanes to be used for passenger traffic during weekends.

Asked about the traffic situation during Chinese New Year, he said all booths at both checkpoints were fully operational.

Malaysian N. Loganathan, 48, said there seemed to be more congestion on the Singapore side because of a lack of staff at the Woodlands checkpoint.

“We can clear the Malaysian side within 30 minutes, but sometimes we get stuck in Woodlands for as long as two hours as many counters are closed,” he lamented, adding that the situation was expected to worsen after chap goh mei – the 15th day of Chinese New Year – when most people return to work.

Motorcyclist Omar Kamison, 35, proposed a dedicated motorcycle lane at the Second Link for people arriving from Singapore.

“On weekends, many cars and lorries end up driving very close to us, resulting in accidents,” he said, adding that there is such a lane on the Johor side.

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Plans for a single-clearance system for the RTS Link were agreed to by both countries in 2011, paving the way for travellers to clear immigration at only one location in each direction.

The Straits Times has contacted Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority for comment. THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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