SINGAPORE: The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) is warning of continued heavy traffic at the land checkpoints at the border with Malaysia over the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Traffic tailbacks are expected to reach both the Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) and the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE), said ICA on Monday (Dec 19).
The agency has been anticipating long lines since the year-end school holidays started.
Over the recent weekend from Dec 16 to 18, more than one million travellers passed through the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints, with about 359,000 people daily.
Traffic flow through both checkpoints has returned to approximately 84 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, ICA noted, an increase from the figure of 80 per cent in its last update in November.
"At peak hours, the volume has reached pre-COVID-19 levels," ICA added.
It advised travellers to factor in additional time for immigration clearance.
"At the peak of the holiday season in 2019, the average waiting time for travellers departing or arriving by car via the land checkpoints was about three hours," ICA said.
These are ICA's pointers for planning a smooth journey:
- Before embarking on their journey, motorists are advised to check the traffic situation at the land checkpoints through the Land Transport Authority's One Motoring website or via the Expressway Monitoring & Advisory System installed along the BKE and AYE.
- Motorists can also get updates through ICA’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as local radio broadcasts on Money 89.3, Kiss92, One 91.3, Hao 96.3, UFM 100.3.
- Motorists are reminded to avoid queue cutting as it can cause severe congestion and compromise the safety of other motorists. They should observe traffic rules, maintain lane discipline, and cooperate with officers on-site.
- Travellers by bus who are eligible to use the automated lanes at the passenger halls are encouraged to do so.
ICA also reminded travellers to make sure that their travel documents are in order:
- Ensure their passport has a remaining validity of at least six months.
- Singapore permanent residents who have renewed their passport have to transfer their Re-Entry Permit to the new passport.
- Long-term pass holders, who hold Employment Passes, S passes, Work Permits, Student’s Passes, Long-Term Visit Pass es and Dependant’s Passes, will need to notify ICA or the Ministry of Manpower of any change in their passport particulars.
- All short-term visitors, including holders of in-principle approval for long-term pass, are required to submit their Singapore Arrival Card within three days prior to their arrival in Singapore. Due to the high volume of traffic and daily commuting for employment and studies, Singapore residents are exempted from submitting a health declaration if they are returning to Singapore via the land checkpoints. They will have to do so if they enter Singapore via the sea and air checkpoints, said ICA.
- Drivers of foreign-registered vehicles entering Singapore must have a valid Vehicle Entry Permit, the LTA approval email, and an Autopass card.
Travellers should not bring in prohibited items such as weapons, electronics cigarettes or vaporisers, ICA added.
"Those bringing in dutiable or controlled items such as tobacco products must proactively declare them to our officers prior to being checked."
Departing travellers driving Singapore-registered cars are reminded to observe the “three-quarter tank” rule. Offenders may be issued with a composition sum of up to S$500 or prosecuted in court.
They will be turned back at the checkpoints, and not allowed to proceed with their journey into Malaysia.
"ICA will continue to facilitate immigration clearance without compromising security. We seek travellers’ understanding and cooperation to be patient, observe traffic rules, maintain lane discipline, and cooperate with officers on-site when using the land checkpoints," it said.