JOHOR BARU: Efforts to reduce congestion at the Sultan Iskandar Building (BSI) customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) complex at the Causeway can be expedited if the government establishes a single agency to manage the checkpoint.
Stulang assemblyman Andrew Chen, who heads a task force to monitor the congestion in BSI, said there are currently too many government departments and agencies operating at the complex.
"There are 23 departments and agencies operating at the complex at the moment, and each would report to their own respective superiors. This would make it difficult to implement any changes as each department and agency has their own instructions," said Chen.
He said Malaysia should take the lead from Singapore, where the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) is responsible for all matters regarding the republic's checkpoints.
"With a single agency, we will be able to reduce bureaucracy in the border administration and improve response time whenever there is any problem," said Chen.
The establishment of a single agency to manage BSI is one of 11 recommendations submitted by the task force to the relevant authorities to help efforts to reduce congestion at the busy border checkpoint.
The task force was among two that were set up by the Johor government in July last year to look into problems affecting the two land border checkpoints here.
Comprising staff from government departments and agencies involved in operations at the checkpoints, the task force comes up with solutions for the problems affecting BSI.
Chen said his task force took about four months to complete the report, which has been submitted to the relevant ministries and agencies earlier this month.
"Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin told me that he would look at the proposals and, if suitable, will try to implement them as quickly as possible."
Chen said there is an urgent need to address the problem quickly. He said that based on the study carried out by the task force, 150,000 people cross both sides of the Causeway daily.
However, many earlier surveys reported by Singaporean media have revealed that more than 300,000 people cross the Causeway daily.
"Either way, this makes the Causeway one of the busiest checkpoints in the world. It is important for us to address the congestion problem at the checkpoint as soon as possible in order to ensure the comfort and convenience of those who use it, especially Malaysians who commute to Singapore for work," said Chen.
He admitted that the problem of Causeway congestion has accumulated over more than 30 years due to an increase of people and vehicles going in and out of Singapore from Johor every day. He said efforts to rectify the situation would take some time.
"What we want to see are changes being implemented as soon as possible, even if it is done little by little. This is a big problem that needs a comprehensive solution," said Chen.
The BSI is described as the busiest land entry and exit point in the country as it operates 24-hours a day all year round with more than 135,000 vehicles passing through it daily.
The Immigration Department, Customs Department, police, PLUS Malaysia Bhd, Road Transport Department and State Health Department are among the long list of agencies based at the BSI.
The Property Management Division of the Prime Minister's Department is the owner and custodian of BSI. Advanced Maintenance Precision Management Sdn Bhd provides the facility management services for the complex.