I still remember the massive annoyance of, and my exploding RAGE at, Malaysia’s half-baked ‘upgrade’ of the immigration complex.
Previous CIQ coverage:
- The Star: CIQ Teething woes to go up before Cabinet two years already, this excuse had better not be used this time round!)
Work flaw cause of jams
THE citizens of both Malaysia and Singapore greeted news of the opening of the new CIQ in Johor Baru with anticipation and hope.
When the day finally came we were awed by its scale and presence. However, since its opening there had been one nightmare after another.
I go through the Johor Baru CIQ daily during peak hours in the morning and in the evening. Since its opening in December 2008 until now, only 30% (or fewer) of the counters are open during peak hours.
Never have I seen all the counters open, even when the queue snakes all the way to the Singapore side of the Causeway. Too many times I have been caught in a traffic jam getting into Malaysia, only to find that it’s due to this.
The only time there isn’t any congestion at the JB CIQ is when the traffic gets bad on the Singapore side (i.e. not many cars are coming through to Malaysia).
The immigration counters are run like a normal 9am to 5pm office environment with no plans for handling peak hour, weekend, festive/holiday traffic.
Many times I have seen immigration officers just switch off the lights and walk out of the counters at the end of their shift, to the bewilderment of those in the cars, who are left standing high and dry.
There isn’t even an overlapping handover period between the officers in different shifts, the way the Singapore immigration officers do.
The Customs personnel also have a tendency to close all lanes and only open one or two lanes out of a dozen or so, with one officer stationed to check thousands of cars. This adds to the horrendous jams on the Causeway.
Why did the Malaysian Government spend so much money to build so many lanes and counters when these car lanes and counters are closed perpetually?
The situation has become so bad that these lanes have become permanent parking lots for the officers who work at the CIQ complex; you can see this is most prevalent on the way out of Malaysia.
To make matters worse, now there is a system whereby all visitors need to have their fingerprints scanned prior to entering and leaving the country. The reason given is national security.
While smugglers and terrorists just walk through the porous borders to the north of the peninsula and in Sabah and Sarawak, we, the genuine travellers and tourists are subjected to security initiatives that cause us to queue for six hours to just get our passports stamped.
Don’t forget the illegals entering through Kota Tinggi.