More automated lanes, vehicle counters at checkpoints ahead of border reopening: ICA

ICA will monitor traffic conditions and adjust its resources as the situation develops. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY
Cap: People waiting outside the checkpoint at Woodlands to cross into Malaysia at 9.30pm on March 31, 2022. ST PHOTO: TOH TING WEI
Motorcyclists waiting in line to enter the ICA at Tuas Second Link just before midnight. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
(Left) Singaporean couple - Mr Calvin Tan, 25, and his girlfriend, Iris Toh, 24 - were the first in the queue to enter Woodlands Checkpoint. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - The number of automated lanes in the bus halls at Woodlands Checkpoint has been increased ahead of Singapore reopening its land border with Malaysia on Friday (April 1), said the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

To beef up capacity, ICA has also configured bus and car counters at the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints to automate immigration clearance for lone drivers, it said in a statement on Thursday evening (March 31).

ICA and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) have also been maintaining, enhancing and testing their systems, it said, adding that contingency plans have been put in place to cope with unforeseen circumstances.

Assistant Commissioner (AC) Colin Tan, who is ICA Woodlands commander, said: “We may expect delays during peak periods and thus would like to seek the public’s cooperation to avoid non-essential travel during peak hours.”

AC Tan added that ICA has 40 counters for cars arriving in Singapore and 36 for those leaving.

ICA will deploy officers based on the traffic situation closer to midnight, he said, adding: “And if the traffic situation calls for it, we will man all available counters.”

ICA’s statement also noted that its officers and all checkpoint agencies have done drills and exercises to familiarise themselves with the workflow and processes.

"We have also planned our manpower in anticipation of the reopening tonight and subsequent anticipated long weekend peaks," ICA said.

It added that it will monitor traffic conditions and adjust its resources as the situation develops.

Singapore has been working with the Malaysian authorities to make sure there are enough resources on the ground to manage traffic, the authority said.

It has also been working with the LTA, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Customs on the operational details of reopening the border, in a bid to reduce inconvenience to travellers.

Travellers should prepare all necessary documents - such as submitting the SG Arrival Card and having a valid vehicle entry permit - before getting to the checkpoints to make travel smoother, said AC Tan.

With the reopening of borders from Friday, travellers fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to travel between Singapore and Malaysia without any testing or quarantine. They will no longer need to take designated vaccinated travel lane (VTL) buses.

The cap on the number of daily overland travellers will also be removed - a major step from the current arrangement where only about 6,800 people are allowed to travel on VTL buses daily.

The highly anticipated move will kick-start short trips between the neighbouring countries, and could pave the way for cross-border trips to return to pre-pandemic levels, when 415,000 people crossed the Woodlands Causeway and Tuas Second Link daily.

A worker touching up the road marking at Woodlands Checkpoint on March 31, 2022. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

The two companies currently operating VTL bus services, Transtar and Causeway Link, have said they will ramp up cross-border trips when border measures are eased on Friday.

But there have been no updates on when public bus services between the two countries will resume. The train service linking Singapore and Johor has yet to resume as well.

Transport Minister S. Iswaran has said more time will be needed for transport services between Johor and Singapore to be ramped up.

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