SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Motorcyclists arriving in Singapore via Tuas Checkpoint receive faster immigration clearance during the rush hour of the morning.
This is due to Operation Sunrise, an initiative implemented by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) since May 2023 to reduce traffic congestion and speed up immigration clearance for motorcycles traveling to Singapore via Tuas Checkpoint.
For vehicles leaving Singapore, it involves rerouting inbound motorcycle traffic into unused automated motorcycle lanes.
By opening another 30 such lanes, ICA is able to control the buildup of motorcycles that normally clog the road with fixed truck and car traffic from Malaysia to the Tuas Checkpoint.
Chong Chee Lee, who lives in Skudai, Johor Bahru, said: “It used to take me an hour and a half to get from home to my office in Singapore – I would leave at 6 am and arrive at work at 7.30 am. Now the same journey takes about 45 minutes, so it takes longer. I can sleep.”
The 25-year-old said he has been working as a technician in Singapore for the past two years and his work journey ahead of Operation Sunrise is still bearable.
But the condition of Terry Guna, 42, was even worse.
He would leave his home in Gelang Patah (Johor) at 4 am every day for the Second Connection. It was a tedious and painful two-hour process as he would have to endure motorcycle exhaust fumes while waiting in line.
“Recently my record was 40 minutes,” said Terry, who has worked in Singapore for the past 15 years.
“These days I leave at 6.30 am and clean the immigration office in Tuas at 7.10 am. Now riding is less stressful.”
The increasing number of motorcycles entering Tuas Checkpoint from Malaysia has made it crucial to divert motorcycle traffic and speed up immigration clearance.
About 123,000 people arrive in Singapore via Tuas Checkpoint every weekday, and 55 percent of them – about 68,000 – are motorcyclists.
ICA added that this was more than 65,000 motorcyclists who used the Tuas Checkpoint daily before Covid-19, adding that the checkpoint is now the main transit point for motorcyclists traveling between Singapore and Malaysia during rush hour.
Around 22,000 motorcyclists pass through the Tuas Checkpoint every day, with the busiest time between 05:00 and 09:00 on weekdays.
Prior to Operation Sunrise, 40 automated lanes and up to nine car counters were deployed to clear motorcycles in the arrival area at Tuas Checkpoint.
ICA said that with the new initiative, automatic cleaning capacity has increased from 40 automatic lanes to 70 automatic lanes for motorcycles arriving during the peak morning hours.
Chief Inspector Lian Zhimin, senior deputy commander of the Tuas Checkpoint, said: “Every weekday morning, we divert incoming motorcycles to the departure zones for clearance, as long as there is no bad weather. Operation Sunrise helps us fully maximize our automatic clearing capacity to clear incoming motorcycles much faster. enabled.”
Supt Lian told The Straits Times that Operation Sunrise was “independent of human power.” Officers at the Tuas Checkpoint were released to perform safety checks on motorcyclists, in addition to performing guiding and road safety duties.
While the initiative sounds simple, it requires careful coordination of the ICA command center at the checkpoint, where large monitors display traffic to Singapore.
Officers were stationed at specific points on the road to direct two-minute waves of motorcyclists into automated lanes for vehicles leaving Singapore. While this is happening, other officers stop cars coming from the opposite direction of the motorcycles.
After passing immigration, the motorcycles are diverted back to the Singapore arrival stream.
Currently, Operation Sunrise is only operating during peak morning hours for motorcycle traffic arriving in Singapore via Tuas Checkpoint, but ICA said it is investigating a similar initiative at Woodlands Checkpoint.
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