Malaysia has installed 14 new auto gates at the Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine Complex (CIQ) on the Johor side of the Causeway, said Immigration Department director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud.
He said on Wednesday that there were a total of 20 auto gates that have been operating for the past 10 years and these will all be replaced by Nov 15, ahead of Malaysia’s Nov 19 polling day for the country’s general election.
“From the 20 old auto gates, we have replaced 14 of them that are in operation, while the remaining six will be in full operation by Nov 15,” he said at a press conference at the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar (BSI) CIQ.
The replacement project began last year as part of the solutions suggested by a special committee on Johor’s two CIQs, with claims by critics that the upgrading works were being carried out to create human and vehicular traffic jams to dissuade tens of thousand of Malaysians who would try to reenter the country to vote in coming days.
Johor’s other CIQ is at the Second Link in Tuas, at the Sultan Abu Bakar Complex in Gelang Patah.
The Johor-Singapore crossings are among the world’s busiest border crossings. Before the pandemic, about 415,000 people used the Causeway and the Tuas Second Link daily.
The land crossings on both sides are periodically swamped by people and vehicles heading to the other side.
Datuk Seri Khairul Dzaimee said he isn’t expecting a spike in travelers crossing from Singapore as polling day nears, with those traveling home to vote expected to start returning from Nov 16, before going back to Singapore in the evening on Nov 19.
“Some of our locals are already traveling back and forth every day, so we do not see any issues in handling this,” he said.
The Immigration Department has also improved 11 counters used by vehicles as they enter Johor Bahru at BSI, with works on eight more counters in progress, he added.
“The next phase will involve another 19 upgrades on vehicle counters that are expected to be completed by February next year.
“Previously, each vehicle would have had to pass through two counters, namely the Immigration and the Road Transport Department counters.
But with the improvement, vehicle users will only need to pass through one counter,” he said, adding that this will save between 10 and 11 seconds per vehicle.
He said that there have been irresponsible parties who have claimed that the upgrading works were done during the 15th General Election to slow the movement of Malaysians working in Singapore when they headed home to vote.
“So, we hope that this explanation will be able to answer all of these irresponsible allegations that have been made,” he added.
At the Tuas side of the Johor land entry, Khairul Dzaimee said 12 of the vehicle lanes heading to Singapore at the CIQ have been turned into flexible or contra lanes, that can be quickly converted should there be vehicle overload from one side of the border.
“This means that they can be used to travel from Singapore into the country if there is an increase of traffic on the polling day on Nov 19.
“Currently, we have a total of 48 travel lanes that are divided evenly between going to Singapore and entering Johor,” he explained.