Ninety per cent of the officers from the Immigration and Checkpoint Authority (ICA) were on duty and about 500 officers worked overtime during the Christmas holidays to manage the high volume of traffic flow at the Woodlands and Tuas Checkpoints, Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said on 27 Dec.
Noting the grumbles of the long wait, and the questions of closed counters, Mr Shanmugam explained that the officers are sometimes redeployed within the Checkpoint to other areas to cope with the increasing demand.
“You might see car counters closed but people might not understand how we work,” he said. “It’s not as if counters are closed and officers are sitting down doing nothing. They’re deployed across counters and continuously have to put in long hours and be alert as well, because the security risks go up during such periods.”
The minister highlighted that there is a 10 percent increase in the number of travelers using both checkpoints – amounting to 430,000 crossings per day as compared to a normal day.
He also said that ICA has employed technology to ease the situation and pointed out that the Woodlands Checkpoint has physical limitations. However, the government is already thinking of “longer-term solutions” involving the physical footprint of Woodlands Checkpoint to curb the surge on festive seasons, he added.
“Technology is the key enabler, we have to use technology, but you know it’s not a complete solution. In the end you need an officer physically sitting there doing something,” said Mr Shanmugam.
Homeland security cannot be compromised even during festive seasons. So, guys… wait a bit la… the ICA officers are already working their guts out to give you clearance leh, and ultimately to keep Singapore safe.