SINGAPORE - Travellers arriving and leaving Singapore by road had to endure long delays to their commute on Friday evening (Dec 14) and Saturday as traffic jams plagued the Tuas and Woodlands Checkpoints.
Several netizens took to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority's (ICA's) Facebook page to complain about the long queues to cross customs to Johor Baru (JB) lasting hours.
Some said they were stuck in jams for about six hours at the Tuas Checkpoint on Friday evening and early Saturday morning, while others said they were in four to five hour jams at the Woodlands Checkpoint on Saturday afternoon.
But one person caught in a jam that stretched eight hours on Friday evening was a 30-year-old traveller, who only wanted to be known as Ms Winnie H. and goes to JB every weekend.
Ms Winnie, who has family in Malaysia and works in the IT sector, told ST that she had been stuck in traffic at the Tuas checkpoint from 4.30pm on Friday afternoon. She only managed to drive into JB around 12.30am on Saturday.
The traffic had backflowed to the Coca-Cola factory along Tuas Avenue 8 when she joined the queue on Friday afternoon, and she only moved about 100m after one and a half hours.
While the jam on Saturday was not as bad, she took about two hours to get through the Tuas Checkpoint at about 5.15pm.
"Previously, the Singapore checkpoint would take about one and half hours around the 6pm to 7pm peak period, and an hour or less after that. It's usually relatively empty at Tuas Checkpoint before 5pm," Ms Winnie said.
"Sadly, nowadays, even a short queue takes about one hour."
Going by comments from several travellers, traffic snarls are par for the course during the year-end period compared with other times of the year.
Said one traveller Ikhsan Putra Ibrahim: "I was stuck for four hours, which I had somewhat expected given it's the weekend and December."
Mr Ikhsan, 30, joined the queue at Tuas around 6.15am, and only got through customs at around 10.15am. He was travelling to JB to attend a wedding at 12pm, and was fortunately able to make it in time.
Neither Mr Ikhsan nor Ms Winnie were able to relax while waiting for the queues to move at the checkpoints, despite the slow traffic, as they had to be alert for potential queue-cutters.
Mr Ikhsan said that there were many cars trying to cut the queue at the entrance where the traffic police were stationed, and some of them were successful, although most of them were rebutted with angry horns from queue-abiding motorists.
"If not for the traffic police, things might have gotten quite messy," Mr Ikhsan added.
According to ICA's Facebook page, traffic arriving and departing both the Tuas and Woodlands Checkpoints has been heavy since 6.20pm on Friday.
Further updates by ICA at 8.20am and 2.05pm on Saturday reaffirmed the heavy traffic to and from Singapore, with delays expected.
The police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force said that they were not alerted to any accidents that could have caused delays to the queues at the checkpoints.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.