Nearly 250,000 leave Singapore via land checkpoints on June 1
Close to 250,000 travellers left Singapore for Malaysia through the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints on Thursday, the highest number of daily departures since land borders between the two countries reopened in April 2022.
The surge in travellers came as the Vesak Day long weekend coincided with the June school holidays, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said in a statement on Friday.
Queues to cross the border were so long that crowds spilt out of the Sultan Iskandar Building’s Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex on the Malaysian side, according to pictures posted by netizens.
Other pictures circulating on social media showed travellers, packed shoulder to shoulder, entering the immigration hall.
Traffic is expected to be heavy at both the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints, with continuous tailbacks on the Malaysian side, said ICA, which advised those travelling via the land checkpoints to factor in additional waiting time for immigration clearance.
“We also seek travellers’ understanding and cooperation to be patient, observe traffic rules, maintain lane discipline and cooperate with officers on-site when using the land checkpoints,” said ICA.
The travel crush led Johor Menteri Besar Onn Hafiz Ghazi to say in a Facebook post on Friday that motorists who cut queues risk being denied entry into Malaysia.
One traveller, who wanted to be known as Mr Wei Ern, told The Straits Times that he queued for about three hours to cross the border via the Causeway on Friday morning.
“I’m taking a short trip to Johor Bahru with my friends, and it just so happens that today is Vesak Day and (the start of the) June school holidays, so the wait is naturally longer,” said the 44-year-old, who works in public relations.
Ms Yang Peijun, 26, who waited for six hours, told ST she could not use the electronic gates on the Malaysia side for automated clearance even though she registered to use them.
She ended up at the manual counters where officers were “stamping passports very slowly” and there were no proper queues.
“The hall was already super full, so everyone was just pushing and squeezing each other,” said the bank analyst.
Heavy traffic has been reported at the Singapore-Malaysia land checkpoints since travel restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic were lifted.
During the Good Friday weekend in April, close to 1.4 million travellers crossed the land checkpoints, with an average of about 350,000 people leaving and entering Singapore each day.