Causeway traffic eases for pedestrians but not vehicles

Causeway traffic eases for pedestrians but not vehicles
The traffic situation has been blamed on heightened security at the Singapore checkpoints following the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, and heavier traffic due to the school holidays.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Pedestrian traffic across the Causeway appeared to have returned to normal last night after massive road jams on Thursday forced hundreds to cross into Singapore on foot.

The situation did not improve for vehicles, however, which remained trapped in a massive gridlock.

People walking into Singapore via the Woodlands Checkpoint last night told The Straits Times they did not experience long waiting times, clearing Customs in half an hour, unlike Thursday morning where the process took at least two hours for both pedestrians and motorists.

It is understood that turnstiles used to manage travellers on foot had been removed at the Woodlands Checkpoint, which could have eased the situation.

Singaporeans travelling to Malaysia using the Causeway and Second Link have been warned to expect delays due to heightened security measures put in place since the Paris terror attacks last month.

Singapore's Berita Harian reported earlier this month that security checks are now being conducted before the passport counter, adding to the delays.

Travellers told The Straits Times that they had experienced heavy traffic even when crossing after midnight.

"There was once I had to wait in traffic for five hours," said Mr John Wong, 40, who has relatives in Johor.

Malaysian daily The Star reported that one of the reasons for Thursday's jam was the closure of two motorcycle lanes, worsening the already heavy traffic.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said there will also be heavier traffic during the year-end school and festive holidays, with an estimated 430,000 travellers using the checkpoints daily during this period.

The ICA uses various methods to manage the heavier traffic, including flexible deployment of staff and diverting traffic to different lanes, such as allowing cars to use lanes normally assigned to lorries.

However, massive traffic jams at the checkpoint continue, with traffic stretching the length of the Causeway at 6pm yesterday.

Malaysian news portal Malaysiakini reported yesterday that the Johor Democratic Action Party (DAP) has called for discussions between the Malaysian and Singapore governments, saying that the long waits at the checkpoint could negatively impact low-income Malaysians who cross the border every day for work.

The party says one reason for the recent jams, which have gone on for the past month, is the heightened security checks at the Singapore checkpoints.

"The Singapore Government should open more counters at its CIQ to allow for speedier passage for commuters," it said in a statement.

"On the Malaysian side, many measures can also be implemented to improve the traffic conditions."

This article was first published on Dec 19, 2015.
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