- Lianhe Zaobao
Drivers who travel to and from Malaysia via the Causeway might want to plan their trip a little more carefully and factor in longer waiting times clearing immigration.
In a bid to beef up border security at the Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (ICA) has rolled out thumbprint scanning for everyone travelling via cars above the age of six.
Introduced on Monday (Sep 25), the BioScreen security system had already been in place for those travelling by train or bus as well as lorries and good vehicles since its launch in April last year. The latest move is part of a trial to progressively expand the system.
According to The Straits Times, authorities hope to eventually roll out an automatic car clearance system that will not require travellers to step out of their cars.
For now though, car drivers and passengers arriving and departing via both checkpoints will have to step out of their vehicles and scan both thumbprints at immigration counters.
However, the checkpoints can see close to half a million passing through daily during festive periods, and members of the public have lamented that the new system will worsen traffic congestion during rush hours.
In a statement, the ICA said: “With the implementation of BioScreen at car counters, travellers may experience slightly longer immigration clearance time.”
Quoted by The Star, businessman Mr N. Jegathisan said the move poses a huge inconvenience to passengers.
“The lanes at the Singapore CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine) are so narrow. Imagine the crowds waiting at the immigration booths,” he said.
Another traveller only known as Mr Tan, regularly drives to Singapore for work. He told The Star: “If they implement this for everyone in the car, it is going to add more time at the immigration counters.”
Mr Tan also expressed his concerns that technical issues could arise if a thumbprint was not clear.
“If they use this system, they should do away with the manual stamping of the passport and instead scan and match them. They can use a wireless device for this,” he added.
Some have raised concerns online that that the system might be challenging for the aged and disabled.
In a Straits Times report, commander at Woodlands Command, Assistant Commissioner Chua Sze How said: “For travellers who require special assistance, our officers will assess each situation and render assistance accordingly.”