Immigration counters at JB checkpoint often unmanned, say lorry drivers

PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

JOHOR BARU - Exasperated with the long wait for immigration clearance at the Johor Baru checkpoint, some Malaysian lorry drivers would just drive on to Singapore without producing their passports.

These drivers claimed they often had to wait up to 30 minutes, and sometimes alight from their vehicles to look for Immigration officers when the booths were unmanned at the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex.

Pan-Malaysia Lorry Owners Association president Anthony Tan Boon Siong said the lorry drivers were unhappy with such “service” and resorted to driving off without producing their passports as they were rushing to deliver goods.

Since last week, Tan said that at least 20 drivers were stopped and detained for about 24 hours during special Immigration operations at the CIQ for such offences.

While the association did not condone such an action by the drivers, Tan said the department should ensure its counters were manned all the time.

“You cannot expect drivers to wait at the booths for up to 30 minutes or go around looking for an Immigration officer to stamp their passport,” he said.

The members, he said, claimed that it had been happening for some time, especially during the wee hours of the morning.

Tan said there were only six counters for lorries travelling out of Johor.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that Immigration officers arrested a driver and lodged a report against him several days ago allegedly for showing empty booths at the Johor CIQ on Facebook.

The video has since gone viral on social media.

An officer, when contacted, said the allegations were serious and they were now carrying out an internal investigation.

Immigration officers who were missing from their booths without valid reasons would face disciplinary action, he said.

However, the officer also stressed that lorry drivers must have their passports scanned before exiting the country or risk severe action.