Malaysia and Thailand will have a round-the-clock border checkpoint in 2019, once a new integrated customs and immigration complex opens to the public.
Kedah state government-which shares a border with Songkhla province in Thailand- has in principle agreed with Malaysia federal government to extend operations at the border checkpoint at Bukit Kayu Hitam to 24 hours from 18 presently.
Kedah Premier Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah declared in April to the State Legislative Assembly that the government had scrutinised all the relevant issues particularly security.
He then indicated that agencies at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex at Bukit Kayu Hitam were fully aware and would not compromise on the issue of security. The extension, he said, was also to encourage foreign visitor arrival and reduce traffic congestion at the CIQ complex during peak hours.
“The Prime Minister, and Deputy Prime Minister as Home Minister gave their nod to the move at the Mentri Besar and Chief Ministers’ Meeting,” he said in front of the Assembly.
Ahmad Bashah said the round-the-clock operation should not just be seen from the negative perspective but also its socio-economic benefit to Kedah particularly through the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Triangle.
“We can earn profit from transportation (charges and so on), especially vehicles from Thailand that carry agricultural goods, vegetables and fruits into the country,” he said.
He said the 24-hour proposal once materialised, would spur Bukit Kayu Hitam’s growth as an industrial area, particularly in view of the state government’s plan to establish a 6,000-acre as a tax-free zone.
This week, Malaysia Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi confirmed the project. From Jan 1, 2019, the Malaysia-Thai border checkpoint here will operate round the clock with completion of the US$100 million (RM425 million) integrated Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security complex.
The DPM told that the first phase of the new complex will be completed by Sept 1. The complex will be in operation on Sept 3 and the current 18-hour checkpoint operations will be extended to 20 hours.
“This will also ensure that all current congestion problems be solved,” Dr Ahmad Zahid told a press conference after visiting the site.
Kedah wants also to make the area more attractive for visitors. According to Kedah Premier, more hotels and shopping complexes will be built on the Malaysian side of the border to attract visitors.
(Source: Bernama- The Star)