Malaysians dash home and back ahead of lockdown
There was a frantic rush on both sides of the Causeway yesterday afternoon as drivers and pedestrians tried to beat the two-week lockdown imposed by Malaysian authorities from today.
News of the tough border controls sparked a mass exodus of Malaysian workers from Singapore to collect their clothes and belongings before a rush back here so they could continue with their jobs.
Roads to Woodlands Checkpoint were gridlocked, stretching several hundred metres down the ramp, although traffic had eased by 5.30pm.
Mr Didi Iskandar was relieved he dodged the chaos. The 27-year-old Malaysian cleaner was told by his bosses at 8am yesterday to go home and collect his belongings for a two-week hotel stay in Singapore so he could continue working at his firm. He made it back here by 1.30pm.
"I was lucky not to have been caught in a long jam," said Mr Didi, who was taking a break by the roadside under the sweltering sun.
There was a steady flow of Malaysia-registered motorcycles exiting Woodlands Checkpoint into Singapore between 1pm and 4pm yesterday.
Most carried haversacks while some balanced large bags and mini suitcases on their motorcycles.
Malaysian clerk Eileen Teo, who had just arrived from Johor Baru, said immigration counters there posted notices of the lockdown. She was caught in a jam for two hours as her bus slowly inched towards Woodlans Checkpoint.
"I'm lucky I have relatives I can stay with in Singapore," said Madam Teo. "My other colleagues, who are on holiday in Malaysia, have decided to take 14 days' leave without pay."
Malaysians are not the only ones worried about the travel curbs. Singaporean Kevin Tay, 29, who runs a customised clothing and apparel business in Woodlands, has been making fortnightly "business runs to Johor Baru".
"Our production factory is in Malaysia, and because businesses there cannot work (after yesterday), they are unable to work on our orders.
"I feel the announcement and information given was incomplete and the time given to react was too short."
ADDITIONAL REPORTING: LOK JIAN WEN, TOH TING WEI