Aiming for faster clearance, while ensuring security

ICA officers at the land checkpoints have to handle a variety of scenarios and may be redeployed at any time to areas which require more support.
ICA officers at the land checkpoints have to handle a variety of scenarios and may be redeployed at any time to areas which require more support.PHOTO: ST FILE

The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) thanks Mr Tan Soon Hock and Mr Gan Chin Kian for their letters, (Hire retired, retrenched people to boost ICA manpower and Why hasn't recurring problem of congestion at land checkpoints been solved?; both published on Dec 29, 2018).

Our land checkpoints are among the busiest in the world with daily usage averaging about 400,000 travellers. The number goes up to about 430,000 during the year-end festive season.

Unlike air and sea checkpoints where travel volume is subject to landing and berthing space, traffic volume at land checkpoints is dynamic and subject to surges which cannot be completely predicted.

ICA officers at the land checkpoints have to handle a variety of scenarios and may be redeployed at any time to areas which require more support.

For example, officers could be reassigned from departure to arrival counters or vice versa, or be ready to clear cars instead of lorries, to adjust to real-time demand.

Border checks are our first line of defence against external security threats.

ICA officers have to ensure that they do not compromise security while managing congestion.

We place great importance on ensuring that our officers have the competencies to perform these jobs well.

In this regard, retired Home Team officers with relevant experience form a suitable pool of resources, and ICA has already been employing them to augment our manpower during peak periods.

ICA has also expanded the use of technology to automate clearance.

For example, since December 2016, ICA has installed 164 automated clearance lanes at the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints, which has helped increase the clearance speed of motorcyclists by 30 per cent.

Tuas Checkpoint also implemented bus scanners in July last year to enable ICA officers to check buses more effectively and efficiently.

These initiatives have helped to alleviate waiting time and also cut reliance on manpower.

ICA will continue to find ways to improve clearance efficiency at the land checkpoints without compromising security.

Brenda Tham (Ms)

Deputy Head, Public & Internal Communications

Corporate Communications Division

Immigration & Checkpoints Authority

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2019, with the headline 'Aiming for faster clearance, while ensuring security'. Print Edition | Subscribe