World

Bikers stuck in queue for three hours

New automated gantry system at Johor Baru immigration checkpoint breaks down in past two days

JOHOR BARU: Thousands of motorcyclists rushing to Singapore for work were stuck at the Johor Baru immigration checkpoint at the Causeway yesterday after newly-implemented automated gantries malfunctioned for a second consecutive day.

Swarms of motorcycles were stuck in snaking queues at the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex, Sin Chew Daily reported.

The problem stems from an automated gantry system called M-Bike, which was fully implemented last Thursday.

M-Bike was introduced to help reduce congestion at entry points between Malaysia and Singapore by up to 50 per cent.

It uses a radio frequency identification device sticker attached to the holder's passport and requires the passport holder to place his thumb on the reader before the gantry gate opens.

But some of the gantries have broken down, causing a huge bottleneck and forcing the authorities to channel motorcyclists through normal manned gantries instead.

On Monday, the same problem had caused a three-hour jam starting at 6am and left many motorcyclists fuming as they were late for work.

One biker, Mr Muhammad Azman Mohd Khaled, 42, told The Star he decided to turn back and return home instead.

"The traffic flow did not improve for a few hours, and I decided to take a day off," he said.

Another motorcyclist, Ms Amy Chang, 38, who works as a restaurant manager here, said she had no choice but to brave the congestion.

'MAKING IT WORSE'

"The M-Bike system should improve the traffic flow, but instead it is making it worse," she said.

Johor Immigration Department director Rohaizi Bahari blamed errant motorcyclists for damaging the gantries.

He said some motorcyclists avoided having their passports inspected by tailgating other motorcyclists.

"The average time for going through an M-Bike counter is only one minute, but there are some irresponsible motorcyclists who do not have the patience and just barge through the inspection lane without providing their passports, which is a serious offence," he said.

Mr Rohaizi added that there were also motorcyclists who did not register with the system but accessed the special lanes meant for M-Bike users.

He defended the M-Bike system, stressing that it was put in place to ensure that motorcyclists would be properly checked by the department before entering Singapore.

There are 50 M-Bike counters and 12 other counters for manual checks at the CIQ complex.

Mr Rohaizi said 38 motorcyclists had been detained for going through the gantries without providing their passports to the Immigration Department.

Long queues were also seen in Gelang Patah yesterday, as motorcyclists hoping to avoid the Causeway jam headed for the Second Link checkpoint to enter Singapore.

Mr Rohaizi said the department will be working closely with the traffic police over the congestion issue and urged those entering Singapore through the Causeway and Second Link to be patient. - THE STRAITS TIMES

IMMIGRATION & CHECKPOINTS AUTHORITY (ICA)Johor Barumotorcycle