BUKIT KAYU HITAM: The wait to achieve smoother flow of goods between Thailand and Malaysia has ended after the border opened 24/7 since midnight yesterday .
Both the Bukit Kayu Hitam Immigration, Customs, Quarantine and Security (ICQS) Complex and Sadao Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex are now operating round the clock on a three-month trial basis.
Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Marzuki Yahya said the 24-hour operation marked a historic event between both countries, adding that the trial period would end on Sept 17.
“For many years, the gate would close at exactly midnight.
“Starting from today, it is open 24 hours to facilitate trade across the national borders,” he said at the opening ceremony here yesterday.
The crossing was previously open from 6am to midnight daily.
For years, industrialists called for the heavy vehicles lanes to be open 24/7 to ease the flow of goods between the countries.
However, the public lane for people to cross remains open for only 18 hours from 6am to midnight.
Marzuki said both Malaysia and Thailand have set up teams to evaluate the effectiveness of the 24-hour operation.
“Having shared a common border, it is vital to improve connectivity between both countries.
“The move will attract foreign direct investments, enhance industrialisation efforts as well as accelerate the process of economic growth of both countries,” he said.
Marzuki said trade between the two countries continued to increase steadily, as Thailand is Malaysia’s fifth largest trading partner globally and second largest trading partner among Asean member states.
“Our total trade with Thailand last year recorded an increase of 13.7% at USD$26.12bil (RM109.15bil) compared with USD$22.96bil (RM95.94bil) in 2017.
“Border trade accounts for more than 60% of the total trade,” he said.
During the ceremony, the border gate was closed at midnight before it was reopened at 12.05am, witnessed by Marzuki and Adviser to Foreign Minister of Thailand Chaisiri Anamarn.
Chaisiri said the move would further facilitate cross-border trade and logistics, lessen traffic congestion at the checkpoint and facilitate round-the-clock coordination between the border control agencies of both countries.
“Although the three-month trial period applies only to lorries and trailers, we believe that allowing them to cross the border after normal operating hours will help reduce daytime traffic congestion.
“It will also be more convenient for our peoples to cross the border for tourism, business and trade.”
Chaisiri said Thailand was building a new Sadao CIQ complex scheduled to open early next year.
“I hope the complex will be able to directly link to the Bukit Kayu Hitam ICQS Complex to promote even greater connectivity between our countries,” he said.
Also present were Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, Governor of Songkhla Province Weranaan Pengjun, Customs Director-General Datuk Paddy Abdul Halim, Thailand ambassador to Malaysia Narong Sasitorn and Malaysian ambassador to Thailand Datuk Jojie Samuel M. C. Samuel.