SINGAPORE: The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) has responded to recent online claims, denying responsibility for the congestion witnessed at the Singapore-Malaysia land checkpoints during the long weekend earlier this month, coinciding with the presidential election polling day on September 1.

Over the course of the long weekend, a staggering 1.7 million travellers crossed the land borders between Singapore and Malaysia, marking a historic high since the reopening of these checkpoints after the COVID-19 lockdowns. However, this influx of travellers also led to severe traffic congestion, resulting in extensive delays, including reports of travellers being stuck along the Tuas Second Link for up to nine hours.

Addressing the concerns raised by some members of the public online, the ICA emphasized that Singapore’s commitment to border security cannot be relaxed, even during peak travel periods. The authority clarified that the primary cause of the traffic congestion during the long weekend was the delay in vehicles clearing the Malaysian checkpoint. This delay prevented vehicles that had successfully passed through the Singapore checkpoint from proceeding into Malaysia.

Furthermore, the ICA noted that there were disparities in the security checks conducted at the checkpoints in the two countries, with fewer security checks being performed in Malaysia compared to Singapore. The ICA underscored the importance of maintaining rigorous border security measures to prevent smuggling of illegal goods and individuals. In this regard, authorities are deploying advanced technology for inspections based on risk assessment.

During periods of severe congestion, particularly during long weekends and holiday seasons, the ICA said it adopts additional measures to mitigate traffic issues and ensure the smooth flow of people and vehicles. These measures include issuing advance announcements to the public to allow extra time for customs clearance. Additionally, the ICA said it collaborates with various agencies, such as the Land Transport Authority and cross-border bus operators, to increase bus frequencies and accommodate the higher passenger volume.

The ICA said it will continue to explore how to improve passenger experience, but safety cannot be sacrificed for speed. The authority will continue to work closely with Malaysia to improve traffic conditions.