Still-empty immigration counters

A file picture of people lining up to get Immigration clearance at the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar CIQ in Johor Baru on June 2, 2023.

JOHOR BARU: Easing the snarling traffic congestion at both land borders with Singapore will help spur the country’s tourism sector, says the Malaysian Tourist Guides Council.

Its president Jimmy Leong (pic) said it was important to keep all counters open, especially during peak periods on weekends and holidays.

“Like today, only two counters were kept open at the Second Link checkpoint to clear stage, express and tour buses at 8.30am.

“During weekends, more than 100 buses would be coming into Johor and it is sad for people to be stuck at the checkpoint for almost three hours,” he said, commending Mentri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi for conducting frequent spot checks on the two checkpoints.

Malaysian Tourist Guides Council president Jimmy Leong.Malaysian Tourist Guides Council president Jimmy Leong.

“Like in the Second Link, there are two blocks to clear bus passengers, with each having eight to 10 immigration counters.

“Why were only two (sections) open on Saturday morning? Why can’t they allocate adequate personnel to open all counters?” he added.

Leong, who is also the Johor Tourist Guides Association chairman, said the Immigration Department should have expected a large number of people due to the long weekend holiday and Singapore having its school holidays currently.

“The move to improve clearance time at the two checkpoints is good and will encourage more Singaporeans to enter Johor,” he said, adding that he hopes to provide his association’s feedback to the Mentri Besar.

However, he said counters should remain open even if Onn Hafiz was not visiting the checkpoints.

On Facebook, Onn Hafiz said the Johor government had recommended the activation of contra lanes at the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex (BSI) in Johor Baru and the Sultan Abu Bakar CIQ Complex (KSAB) in Iskandar Puteri to overcome the overwhelming congestion at the two locations.

He concurred that the extraordinary congestion at the two locations since Thursday was due to the school and public holidays and the long weekend.

Over 258,000 travellers were recorded using the route at BSI and 63,000 travellers at KSAB on Thursday.

“To ensure this does not happen again, I have asked the management of BSI and KSAB to consider opening the contra lanes, specifically for travellers using the walkway and public transport and especially during school holidays or long holidays.

“This contra lane can be activated for inbound and outbound movements from the country during certain periods, such as school holidays or festive seasons,” he said in a post.

Onn Hafiz, who was at the BSI on Friday, had advised users of the Johor Causeway and the Second Link to plan their journey in advance so as not to get caught in traffic jams.

Several photos of the congestion at the BSI have been shared by members of the public on social media since yesterday.

On Friday, Johor Police Chief Datuk Kamarul Zaman Mamat warned motorist to follow the rules when entering Malaysia or risk being turned back to Singapore.

He said the force has taken proactive steps by placing its traffic police and other policemen at locations in and around BSI and KSAB.

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