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Wednesday December 17, 2008

Crawl at CIQ complex checkpoint on first day

JOHOR BARU: The first day of operations at the new Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex was marred by massive traffic congestion.

The two-hour-long crawl saw traffic into Johor snaking all the way to Woodlands in Singapore during peak hours due to motorists being caught off guard by the cashless toll collection system at the complex.

Many motorists, especially Singaporeans, did not know that they were required to use Touch ’n Go cards at the new complex in Bukit Cagar.

First day blues: THE new Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex in Johor Baru opened to motorists at 12.01am Tuesday. There was congestion shortly after the opening (main picture) as well as during peak hours, as seen in the picture taken at 1.30pm (inset). Most of the congestion was caused by traffic from Singapore entering Malaysia. See Page 6. — KENNETH WONG / The Star

The congestion did not let up even when Plus officials were stationed at the complex entrance to sell RM20 cards on the spot to motorists.

Counters were also set up at the old checkpoint.

Notices were also placed at Woodlands informing motorist about the traffic congestion at the entrance into Malaysia.

Singaporean businessman John Tan, 45, said he only found out about the cards when he entered Johor via the new complex.

Long wait: The first batch of road users using the new Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex after its opening at midnight Tuesday.

“I was excited to use the new complex and expected it to be more efficient than the old Causeway checkpoint,” he said adding he was surprised when he was told he had to use the card for toll payment.

However, Tan said he was impressed with the design of the new complex.

Fellow Singaporean Tommy Ong, 40, said the authorities should have made the public more aware that Touch ‘n Go cards had to be used.

Malaysian chef Chan Pon Soh, 30 said it was “historic” to be among the first batch of road users using the new complex despite technical difficulties.

“Luckily for me, I already have a Touch ‘n Go card which I use on the North-South Expressway,” he said.

At the Causeway, workers are diverting traffic to the new complex.

Malaysian K. Selvaraju, 41, said he was disappointed with the congestion. “I was hoping for a smoother ride but it was not the case.’’

Johor Immigration director Mohd Nasri Ishak said the congestion was due to motorists not having Touch ‘n Go cards and not used to the new road system.

“The jams were mainly during peak hours in the morning and even when people returned from work,” he said.

He said that adequate notices had been put up informing the public about the cashless toll system adding that all 200 counters for in-bound and out-bound were operational on the first day.

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