SINGAPORE - The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) on Wednesday (Jan 15) warned Singaporeans travelling to Malaysia by land during the Chinese New Year holidays to prepare for delays, after it observed the highest traffic flow in recent years around Christmas last year.
The authority said travellers have a part to play to smoothen the clearing process at checkpoints, noting that its officers have encountered many instances of travellers showing up without a passport or with the wrong passport.
"With security checks coupled with large number of travellers using the (land) checkpoints at the same time, traffic build-up is inevitable and delays can be expected," the ICA said in a statement, adding that security remains its "top priority".
Those leaving Singapore between Friday and Jan 28 can expect a long wait, while those entering Singapore between Jan 25 and Jan 28 should be prepared for congestion, it said.
Among the behaviour the ICA cited that could prolong the clearing process are travellers showing up with invalid passports, people bringing in prohibited or controlled items like firecrackers and bak kwa (barbecued pork slices), and motorists cutting the queue.
For instance, travellers who have reported to the ICA that their passports were lost should not use them at checkpoints even if they are later found, as they would have been cancelled by the ICA. Those who try to use these "lost" passports can be fined up to S$10,000, jailed up to 10 years, or both.
A found passport must also be surrendered to the ICA within 14 days of it being recovered. Otherwise, a traveller could risk a fine of up to S$3,000, a jail term of up to two years, or both, the authority said.
The ICA advised those bringing in dutiable or controlled items - such as eggs, bak kwa and potted plants - to proactively make declarations to ICA officers rather than wait for checks by officers. Firecrackers are strictly prohibited, the authority added.
On the common practice of queue-cutting at checkpoints, the ICA said it can cause "severe congestion and compromise motorists' safety".
It said: "Motorists are reminded to observe traffic rules, maintain lane discipline at all times and cooperate with checkpoint officers to ensure a safe environment at the checkpoints."
Motorists can check the traffic situation at the checkpoints on the One Motoring website, or monitor ICA's Facebook and Twitter for updates.
About 415,000 travellers use the land checkpoints daily, but this usually increases during festive periods.
On Dec 20 last year, which was the Friday before Christmas, the ICA said it cleared 475,000 travellers, 60,000 more people than its usual workload. - The Straits Times/Asia News Network