SINGAPORE: The Johor immigration office announced earlier this week that several bus zone counters will be closed from Dec 15, 2023, to Jan 15, 2024, due to upgrading works. However, the day before the closures started, the Causeway saw another traffic jam with commuters stuck for hours.
As traffic was building, the Chief Minister of Johor, Mr Onn Hafiz Ghazi, said in a Facebook post that he had requested for the renovation works be postponed until the end of the school holidays. Singapore’s Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) had already warned early last month of heavier traffic than usual as schools in Singapore go on holiday from Nov 16 to Jan 2. At the same time, many Malaysian schools go on holiday from Dec 15 to Jan 1.
The heavy traffic on Thursday was caught on video and shared online. On the Malaysia-Singapore Border Crossers (MSBC) 马新过境者 Facebook page, videos of hundreds of motorcycles waiting to cross the border were shared, and the sound of impatient drivers honking their horns could be heard.
On the TikTok account @lavinesh_lavonn, a video from the Woodlands Checkpoint was posted, showing a hall jam-packed with people, with a queue reaching the stairs. The TikTok user wrote that it had been posted at 8:00 pm on Thursday.
On Friday morning (Dec 15), the ICA issued the following advisory regarding the situation: “Heavy departure traffic at Woodlands Checkpoint due to tailback from Malaysia. Delays are expected, and travellers are advised to check traffic conditions before embarking on their journey. Motorists are reminded to maintain lane discipline and cooperate with officers on site. Please follow ICA Facebook for more updates.”
The renovation works at the Sultan Iskandar Building, the customs, immigration, and quarantine complex (CIQ) in Johor Bahru, affect select manual counters and e-gates at departure halls and will be carried out in three phases, the immigration office said in a Facebook post.
Starting from Dec 15, the first phase will affect e-gate counters 1 to 3 and manual counters 1 to 4. Phase 2 begins on Dec 21 and affects e-gate counters 1 to 6 and manual counters 11 to 18, while Phase 3 will start on Dec 28 and will affect only manual counters numbered 3 to 12. Meanwhile, the arrival hall will be renovated, affecting the same counters. This will take place in three places as well: Dec 28, Jan 3, and Jan 9.
The Malaysia Digital Arrival Card (MDAC) counter will also be closed from Dec 15 onward. The immigration office of Johor advised travellers to plan for their trips during this affected period and apologized in advance for any inconveniences that travellers may encounter. /TISG