SINGAPORE - The Woodlands Checkpoint will be extended to take in the Old Woodlands Town Centre, said the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) on Thursday (March 30).
This upgrade is to meet "growing traffic needs", while ensuring that immigration clearance remains secure, added the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) in a statement.
The three lessees and 14 tenants affected will have 18 months, or up to Oct 1, 2018, to hand over the properties, SLA added in response to queries.
It added that the Housing Development Board is the head lessee of both properties and that "market value compensation as at the date of gazette will be paid".
The affected lessees and tenants belong in two lots of private land within the town centre - 268 and 270 Woodlands Centre Road - which will be acquired to build the extension, said the SLA.
Each lot is 1,632 sq m, and they are located east of the current Checkpoint.
The SLA added that it will "work closely with the affected owners and tenants, and assist them throughout the acquisition process".
Most tenants said that the news did not come as a surprise as they have been expecting developments in this area for some years.
The owner of Bait House at Woodlands Point (268), who wanted to be known only as Mr Koh, said that two SLA officers came by with a notice of land acquisition at about 10am.
"It's about time that they develop this place. Business has been slow for me all along, with just a few regular customers," said Mr Koh, who has been selling fish bait for about two years and plans to move his business to the east region.
"Not many people want to travel to my shop here, because of the bad jam at the checkpoint."
Madam Chong Yoke Chan, 62, who has been working at the pool parlour on the second floor for more than 10 years, said that she enjoys working there and will be sad to see it go.
She said: "Sometimes students will come by to play pool and they will chat with me. Over the years, I've also got to know some regular customers. It's a pity. I have been here for so long."
The ICA said that since the opening of the Checkpoint in 1999, traveller and vehicle traffic has increased and the security threat has heightened significantly. The Checkpoint has to be upgraded to meet growing traffic needs and ensure that immigration clearance remains secure.
The ICA is conducting a feasibility study to determine the optimal design of the Checkpoint extension and the extent of upgrading and redevelopment works required.
The agencies said the town centre site will enable upgrading works to be progressively carried out at the existing Checkpoint without compromising checkpoint operations. Eventually the town centre will become an extension of the Checkpoint to increase overall clearance capacity and to enhance security.
The SLA has gazetted the acquisition of the affected land on Thursday (March 30) and will work with the affected owners and tenants in the acquisition process.