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Response to “Have separate lanes at Woodlands Checkpoint for foreign-registered cars” (The Straits Times, 13 December 2019)

The Straits Times
20 December 2019

Separate lanes for local and foreign cars adversely affects clearance rate

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) thanks Mr Chew Guan Sun for the suggestion in his letter (Have separate lanes at Woodlands Checkpoint for foreign-registered cars, Dec 13).

The flexible use of lanes for clearance of both foreign and local cars allows for a higher overall clearance rate. This is because all cars passing through the land checkpoints have to undergo the same mandatory checks regardless of their country of registration. This is to detect and prevent persons and items of criminal or security concern from entering Singapore, and we have found all manner of cars being used for such.

Having lanes designated only for local-registered cars, or lanes designated only for foreign-registered cars, will adversely impact overall clearance because of the rigidity it introduces. It does not allow spare capacity in, say, the local lane, from being used to clear foreign cars when the foreign lane is congested. This may then cause a traffic tailback of foreign cars that will block even local traffic on the Causeway, especially during peak periods.

We assure Mr Chew that ICA is constantly exploring ways to improve our checkpoint processes to enhance travellers' experience without compromising border security. ICA has put in place traffic management measures to facilitate the flow of traffic during peak periods. These include the flexible use of cargo lanes for clearance of cars, and the opening up of Old Woodlands Checkpoint. Travellers can also play their part by planning and checking traffic conditions before setting off, and making the necessary adjustments to avoid the peak periods.

For instance, this coming weekend, Dec 21-22, the last weekend before Christmas, usually sees the most congestion at the land checkpoints during the year-end period.

 

Patrick Ong
Head
Public and Internal Communications
Corporate Communications Division
Immigration & Checkpoints Authority

 

<Original Letter>

 

The Straits Times
13 December 2019

Have separate lanes at Woodlands Checkpoint for foreign-registered cars

One of the reasons there are long traffic jams at the Woodlands Checkpoint to enter Singapore is the longer time taken for Malaysian and other foreign-registered vehicles to clear immigration, as more checks need to be done by Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officers.

As a regular user of the Causeway, I have observed that foreign-registered cars take between five and 15 minutes each to clear immigration. And often the lane will be closed temporarily should complications arise.

Currently, there are no lanes designated for foreign-registered cars to clear immigration. The relevant authorities should consider dedicating two lanes for foreign-registered cars, and not allow them to use other lanes.

This will let Singapore-registered cars clear immigration quickly and thereby ease traffic congestion.

 

Chew Guan Sun