March 16 , 2003

New Ruling Causes Long Queues At Causeway

SINGAPORE, March 16 (Bernama) -- Singapore's move to tighten border controls with Malaysia has resulted in long queues at the Woodlands checkpoint, the Sunday Times reported.
The 100 per cent checks at both the Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints started on Friday because of the looming war in Iraq and the threat of terrorists retaliating.
In Parliament last Friday, Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng asked the people to bear with the inconvenience, as "it is for the sake of security and a small price to pay".
Security at the airport and at sea checkpoints was tightened after the Sept 11 2001 attacks on the United States.
At the two checkpoints, the border authorities, bolstered by extra policemen, told drivers to open all their storage areas for inspection -- car boots, glove compartments and bike storage boxes, the Sunday Times reported.
Previously, vehicles coming from Malaysia into Singapore were only checked randomly. As a result of the new move, the 10- to 15-minute wait for border formalities during the morning peak period stretched to about an hour, the newspaper said.
This is despite two or three vehicles being checked at the same time by a few officers and each check taking about a minute, it said.
At 8.45am Saturday, the vehicle queue to enter Singapore was about 1km long.
Every day, about 35,000 motorcycles, 20,000 cars, 1,500 lorries and 800 buses pass through the Woodlands checkpoint.
At the Tuas checkpoint between 1.45pm and 2.30 pm yesterday there was no queue at all. But only 8,000 motorcycles, 2,000 cars, 700 lorries and 150 buses pass through there daily. -- BERNAMA