Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said at the end of the week that it was not possible to do away with immigration and custom checks for travellers leaving Singapore, reported in its Saturday issue the Straits Time.
The ministry was responding to a proposal by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak for a single checkpoint at the Johor Causeway to improve traffic flow. The information was unveiled by the Malaysian newspaper the Star, which detailed the proposal of Najib Razak.
Under the proposal, travellers going to Singapore would be only checked by Singaporean authorities while the ones heading into Malaysia would be only checked on the Malaysian side. In its response to a query from The Straits Times, MHA said “it is not possible to do away with immigration and custom checks for departing travellers”, explaining that “departure checks are a vital part of Singapore’s border security strategy”;
“The Singapore government will continue to work with Malaysia to explore other practical ways to facilitate travel between Singapore and Malaysia,” MHA added. He said there is also a proposal to have a covered walkway along the Causeway for pedestrians.
Malaysia Prime Minister evoked on Friday the increasing congestion of cars at the Causeway, Singapore/Malaysia main border crossing point which links the fast expanding city of Johor Bahru to Woodlands district on Singapore side. It can consequently takes up to two hours to just cross the few hundred meters of the bridge linking both countries.
Najib Razak announced as well the reduction of fees and toll rates for the second link in Tuas in a bid to ease traffic flows along the Causeway. Toll charges at the Second Link will be reduced between 47 per cent and 82 per cent depending on the vehicle class, during off peak periods, from Tuesday.
Singapore’s Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Friday said the Republic will match Malaysia’s revised toll rates, and this will take effect from April 1.
Previous reports say some 300,000 people use the two land crossings between Malaysia and Singapore daily, with the Causeway recording the bulk of the travellers.
Meanwhile, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur have agreed to build a cross-border train service between Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru and Woodlands North in Singapore, which is expected to be ready by the end of 2024. The project has been many times delayed. The future four-km train system will be able to carry up to 10,000 passengers an hour in each direction and will likely become the main tool to traffic reduction between both countries.