SINGAPORE: The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) announced on Wednesday (Jan 3) that at Tuas Checkpoint, large vehicles may be diverted to the bus zones for arrival and departure immigration clearance.

The diversion of large multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) such as Hyundai Starex, Hyundai Staria, Toyota Vellfire, Toyota Alphard, and Maxus to bus lanes began on Jan 2, 2024.

“This is part of the ICA’s ongoing efforts to enhance clearance efficiency at the car lanes and the overall immigration clearance experience for car travellers,” said ICA.

ICA, which published announcements on its website and Facebook page, wrote that it had noticed that these vehicles operate more like mini-vans or buses at the land checkpoints.

MPVs, which have a capacity for 12 people, often contain as many as 16 passengers. Since they have so many passengers, it takes longer for the vehicles to go through clearance compared to smaller vehicles.

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The public has given ICA feedback telling the authority about the delays that MPVs have caused and suggesting that ICA consider separating them into different lanes.

“Diverting such large MPVs to the bus lanes will speed up immigration clearance for both large MPVs and other cars, thus enhancing the overall experience for all travellers. Smaller MPVs can continue to clear immigration through the car lanes,” ICA added.

Those travelling in the large MPVs must get down from the vehicle with their bags and proceed to the bus hall for immigration clearance. MPV drivers, meanwhile, will go through immigration via the bus lane.

Just as it does for bus passengers, ICA will offer special consideration for the elderly, pregnant women, young children, and travellers with mobility issues, with officers facilitating immigration clearance on board.

“ICA has also considered similar initiatives at Woodlands Checkpoint to help ease the high traffic volume at the car zones. However, it is operationally not feasible due to the differences in operating terrain.

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Nonetheless, ICA will continue to study our current processes and explore ways to improve travellers’ experience. We seek travellers’ understanding, patience, and cooperation with ICA officers at the checkpoints,” ICA added.

The Facebook post from ICA has been widely shared and commented on, with many Singaporeans commending ICA for this endeavour. One commenter called it a “Long-awaited move” and expressed the hope that it would become permanent. /TISG

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