'All counters open' to cope with crunch at Causeway

PHOTO: The Straits Times

All or most counters at the Woodlands Checkpoint are open, as manpower has been added to cope with the greater traffic during the holiday season, said Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam.

He visited the Woodlands Checkpoint last Saturday following reports of heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic on the Causeway last week.

"I read accounts of some travellers who said that certain car counters are closed. We open all the counters," he said in remarks released yesterday.

"At some specific points in time when you see the counters closed, it may be because there was a changing of shift for a few minutes, or the officer had gone to the restroom, or had been redeployed to a busier zone," he said.

An estimated 430,000 travellers cross the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints daily during the year end, compared with 400,000 during non-peak periods.

The holiday traveller volume spikes, tighter security in the face of terrorist threats and unpredictable traffic situations are reasons for the recent Causeway jams, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said yesterday. Traffic is monitored in real time, said the ICA, and resources are diverted accordingly.

Mr Shanmugam said a reported four to five hours of waiting time was unlikely. "Our own records suggest that on our side, at most it will be two hours plus, under three hours."

"People understand that, as a result of what has happened in Paris and the heightened terrorism threats worldwide, ensuring the safety of Singapore and Singaporeans is ICA's foremost priority."

This article was first published on Dec 22, 2015. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.