JOHOR BARU (SIN CHEW DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A netizen, believed to be a tour guide, said on Facebook that tourists entering Malaysia by the Second Link waited seven hours for Customs clearance and they ended up having packed food for dinner.
The post last Thursday (March 21) included many photographs of the Sultan Abu Bakar Complex, where the Customs department is located, with pieces of tissue paper strewn on the ground around the toilet and trash bin.
The netizen said the photos were taken by tourists. He also remarked that tourist arrivals help to increase revenue for the country and he is upset that tourists are made to wait for long hours for Customs clearance.
The Sultan Abu Bakar Complex (KSAB) operations taskforce chairman Cheo Yee How and Johor Women Development and Tourism Committee chairman Liow Cai Tung expressed regret over the incident at a press conference last Friday (March 22).
Both urged travel operators to work with the Johor state government to avoid having tourists spending long hours waiting for clearance at the checkpoint in KSAB.
Malaysian Tourist Guides Council president Leong Wie Kong, who was also present at the press conference, said incidents of eating packed food by the road and doing fitness dances to pass the time while waiting for Custom clearance are isolated.
The tourists are believed to be bored after waiting two to three hours and were trying to attract the attention of the authorities.
Mr Leong said complaints about congestion at the Customs checkpoint come mainly from tour operators outside Johor. He added that the public amenities at KSAB needed upgrading as the facilities are unable to cope with the traffic volume.
Mr Yang Fu Lai, another tour operator, said he arranges for tourists to have dinner in Singapore and avoid after-work peak hours to enter Malaysia whenever he makes plans for tourists from China to visit Forest City.
He said 60 to 70 tour buses enter Malaysia through the Second Link daily while the number of tour buses may increase to 100 and 150 during weekends.
Ms Liow said that for safety reasons, tourists are not supposed to leave the bus and wander around the checkpoint area.
She also stressed that the Johor state government views the congestion issue seriously and the taskforce has prepared a report to be presented to the federal government - the Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of the Prime Minister's Department - on upgrading the facilities in the current building.
"For a short-term solution, the authorities will be arranging for volunteer police to assist in traffic," she said.