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Planning a Labour Day, Hari Raya long weekend across the border? Avoid these peak periods, says ICA

Planning a Labour Day, Hari Raya long weekend across the border? Avoid these peak periods, says ICA

Vehicles form a long queue at the Woodlands Checkpoint in Singapore early on Apr 1, 2022, before crossing the Causeway to Malaysia's southern Johor state, as both countries reopen its borders to all fully vaccinated travellers. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: During her shift over the Good Friday long weekend, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) primary screening officer Qaisarah Mohamed Hata had a passport flung in her direction by an annoyed traveller.

Frustrated by the queue, the waiting time and the fact that he was parked at a counter where the ICA officer - SGT Qaisarah - was seated on the passenger side of the car, the driver's frustration boiled over.

"He was in his car and he didn't want to step out," she told reporters on Wednesday (Apr 27). "After that, he realised he was wrong, he went over and picked up the passport (from the ground)."

The man was one of the 436,800 travellers who used the land checkpoints during the Good Friday long weekend, the first such extended break following the full opening of the Singapore-Malaysia land border.

In an advisory issued on Wednesday, ICA said it expects even more people for the upcoming Labour Day (May 1) and Hari Raya Puasa (May 3) holidays and will allocate manpower accordingly.

SGT Qaisarah Mohamed Hata is an ICA primary screening officer. (Photo: CNA/Matthew Mohan)

"ICA officers on the ground will adjust the car and motorcycle zones flexibly, based on the real-time demand of each conveyance mode," said SUPT Sim Chun Yong, Woodlands Checkpoint senior assistant commander.

"To avoid getting caught in traffic congestions, we advise travellers to space out their travel and avoid the peak periods."

ICA will deploy more officers during the peak periods, he added. These officers will be involved in security checks as well as traffic management at Singapore's land checkpoints.

If necessary, ICA will also open all automated and manual lanes at passenger halls.

ICA said that departing traffic is expected to be heavy between Friday (Apr 29) and Saturday (Apr 30). Arrival traffic is expected to be heavy between Tuesday (May 3) and Wednesday (May 4).

It is also advising travellers to avoid departing Singapore between 1pm on Friday and 1am on Saturday, as well as between 5am and 3pm on Saturday. For those arriving from Malaysia, ICA is advising travellers to avoid doing so from 8am on Tuesday to 1am on Wednesday.

ICA will ramp up manpower during the upcoming long holiday weekend, said SUPT Sim Chun Yong, Woodlands Checkpoint senior assistant commander. (Photo: CNA/Matthew Mohan)

"Before embarking on the journey, motorists are also advised to check the traffic situation at the land checkpoints through the One Motoring website or via the Expressway Monitoring & Advisory System (EMAS) installed along the BKE and AYE respectively," said ICA.

"Motorists can also check ICA’s Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates on the traffic situation at both land checkpoints."

At the peak of the National Day and Hari Raya Haji long weekend holidays in 2019, ICA noted that the waiting time for travellers departing Singapore via the land checkpoints stretched to four hours. Those arriving by car had to wait up to one hour during the same period.

ICA said these were pre-pandemic figures and advised travellers to factor in additional time for immigration clearance, and to check the traffic situation before embarking on their journey.

"In terms of the traffic volume, we have yet to reach pre-COVID levels, but we are seeing the number going up and we are expecting the number to continue going up over the next few months," said SUPT Sim.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 415,000 travellers used the land checkpoints daily, with the figure rising during festive peak periods. 

"I am mentally preparing myself for (the) volume of traffic that is going to come in. We already know what to expect, so I'm ready to face it," said SGT Qaisarah, the officer who faced the irate passport-hurling traveller. 

"(We hope travellers can) just be patient with us and other travellers. Everybody is trying to go in and out and if they can just cooperate, then it will be a very smooth transaction for them."

Source: CNA/mt(ac)

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