New CIQ complex opens

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New CIQ complex opens

Postby admin » Mon Dec 15, 2008 3:04 am

JOHOR BARU: The new Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex will be fully operational tomorrow and replace the Causeway checkpoint in the city centre, which will be closed.

This means that all vehicles travelling to and from Singapore will have to use the new complex to get their passports stamped and Customs checks.

The RM1.3bil new complex, which has 76 lanes for cars and 100 for motorcycles, was partially operational on Dec 1 when vehicles from Singapore were diverted to the complex for a drive-through after completing their Immigration and Customs procedures at the Causeway checkpoint.

Starting tomorrow, all vehicles coming from Singapore must also use Touch ’n Go cards to pay toll as they enter Malaysia.

Previously, at the Causeway checkpoint, toll payments could be done with cash and Touch ’n Go cards.

Johor traffic police chief Supt T. Raveendran said full operations of the complex would start at 12.01am tomorrow and would involve all cars, buses, vans and motorcycles.

Lorries, however, would still use the Tanjung Puteri checkpoint.

Supt Raveendran said that at 11.45pm today, the existing Immigration counters in Jalan Tun Razak just before the Causeway would be closed.

All vehicles heading to Singapore between 11.45pm and midnight would be diverted to Jalan Sawmill behind the Johor Baru (central) police station, he added.

Vehicles would then have to go on either Jalan Pantai Lido or Jalan Wong Ah Fook to Jalan Tebrau and subsequently to Jalan Lingkaran Dalam to enter the Sultan Iskandar CIQ complex, he said.

After midnight, all vehicles should head directly to the Sultan Iskandar CIQ complex via Jalan Lingkaran Dalam.

The old Immigration checkpoint at the Causeway will be demolished after authorities are satisfied with the smooth flow of traffic at the new complex.

Engineer Darryl Chong, 32, who works in Singapore and used the new complex, said that he was concerned over the narrow roads at the new complex.

“The roads are very narrow for big vehicles,” he said.

He added that he was unsure whether larger vehicles would slow down the flow of traffic while trying to manoeuvre the winding roads.

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Bye-bye Causeway checkpoint, hello CIQ

Postby admin » Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:40 am

JOHOR BARU: After 41 years of being in operation, the Malaysia-Singapore Causeway checkpoint finally closed its doors at 12.01am on Tuesday.

Johor Immigrations Department director Mohd Nasri Ishak said that the checkpoint, which started operations in 1967, would cease all activities and its operations moved to the new Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex.

He said there was minor congestion at the new complex as road users were still adapting to the new route.

“Traffic was at a slight crawl as there were some technical difficulties.

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Causeway traders split over CIQ impact

Postby admin » Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:42 am

JOHOR BARU: Business owners near the Causeway expressed mixed feelings about the opening of the new Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex.

Some were worried they might have to close down because fewer people were entering the city, while others were optimistic that more people would arrive as traffic congestion would ease.

Photo studio owner Chin Su Thu was worried business would be so bad that he might be forced to relocate.


The 71-year-old said his shop was conveniently located as customers could pick up their photographs on their way back from Singapore.

“Business has been quite bad for the past three to four years, and with the opening of the new CIQ, I’m afraid it will only get worse,” said Chin who has been operating in this location since 1934.

He hoped the Johor Baru City Council and state authorities would organise community activities to help draw people to the area.

Salesman Kalai Selvam, who works at a small 24-hour convenience store, said his employer was moving next month.

“Business has definitely slowed, but my boss has a lot at the new CIQ and we are moving there,” said the 38-year-old father of two from India.

Singaporean Rizal Bashir, 28, a computer programmer, comes to Johor Baru twice a week to refuel his motorcycle.

He believes businesses in the vicinity would suffer as a result of the former CIQ closing down.

“The new one is simply too far away from here, and it will be very difficult for petrol station owners especially. They will probably need to rely on their regular customers to stay in business,” he said.

When approached, petrol station owner Y.K. Chong, 51, said he was not optimistic about the changes.

“Profits have dropped by about 20% so far simply because it is no longer convenient for travellers to pass through this way,” he said.

For the past month, Chong has been giving out free boxes of tissue paper to motorists in an effort to get them to patronise his station.

Security officer M. Saravanan, 21, who lives in Larkin but works in Singapore, said he would not be going to the Causeway area once the new CIQ is fully operational. “It is far from the new exit.”

However, hardware shopowner L.K. Chun was optimistic the situation could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the traders.

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Crawl at CIQ complex checkpoint on first day

Postby admin » Wed Dec 17, 2008 4:47 am

JOHOR BARU: The first day of operations at the new Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex was marred by massive traffic congestion.

The two-hour-long crawl saw traffic into Johor snaking all the way to Woodlands in Singapore during peak hours due to motorists being caught off guard by the cashless toll collection system at the complex.

Many motorists, especially Singaporeans, did not know that they were required to use Touch ’n Go cards at the new complex in Bukit Cagar.

The congestion did not let up even when Plus officials were stationed at the complex entrance to sell RM20 cards on the spot to motorists.

Counters were also set up at the old checkpoint.

Notices were also placed at Woodlands informing motorist about the traffic congestion at the entrance into Malaysia.

Singaporean businessman John Tan, 45, said he only found out about the cards when he entered Johor via the new complex.

“I was excited to use the new complex and expected it to be more efficient than the old Causeway checkpoint,” he said adding he was surprised when he was told he had to use the card for toll payment.

However, Tan said he was impressed with the design of the new complex.

Fellow Singaporean Tommy Ong, 40, said the authorities should have made the public more aware that Touch ‘n Go cards had to be used.

Malaysian chef Chan Pon Soh, 30 said it was “historic” to be among the first batch of road users using the new complex despite technical difficulties.

“Luckily for me, I already have a Touch ‘n Go card which I use on the North-South Expressway,” he said.

Malaysian K. Selvaraju, 41, said he was disappointed with the congestion. “I was hoping for a smoother ride but it was not the case.’’

Johor Immigration director Mohd Nasri Ishak said the congestion was due to motorists not having Touch ‘n Go cards and not used to the new road system.

“The jams were mainly during peak hours in the morning and even when people returned from work,” he said.

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No excuse for chaos at CIQ complex

Postby admin » Thu Dec 18, 2008 2:18 pm

I WAS really excited on Wednesday morning to know from a friend that the new CIQ complex was open to the public.

I am a Malaysian working in Singapore and I used to travel to Johor Baru by bus for a day trip, thus the new CIQ complex was not something new to me as I had seen the building process. It is really a beautiful piece of art.

As a Malaysian, I was really proud of it until that morning when I visited the Star Online.

I found out that there was a massive crawl during the grand opening. And the reason? Simple, it was reported that many people, especially Singaporeans, did not have the touch n go cards. Does this sound like something unavoidable? I don’t think so.

We build a huge complex and yet fail to inform the users about the simplest requirement which is basically a prepaid card.

From the response of the management we can see why the crawl happened. It seems that they are perfectly right, nothing is wrong. To them, it is totally just because the people are not used to the system. Are we not in a state of denial?

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Stranded as walking banned at Causeway

Postby admin » Sun Jan 04, 2009 12:58 am

JOHOR BARU: The new ruling barring people from walking across the Causeway has not only turned out to be an inconvenience but left some stranded in Singapore.

The ruling, which was implemented by Malaysia since the new Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex opened has now been adopted by authorities in the island republic.

With the ruling, pedestrians who were previously able to walk across the 1km causeway when there were massive traffic jams on either side are now forced to wait for public transport.

Many Malaysians, especially workers and students, have been stranded at the checkpoint due to the lack of buses especially during traffic jams and peak hours.

Student Cary Nyeo, 21, had to stay over at a friend’s house in Singapore on Dec 24 when she was unable to board a bus back to Johor Baru.

Nyeo, who is taking a management course in Singapore, said signboards had been put up at the CIQ informing people that walking was not allowed.

“I have seen people break the rule but it is really dangerous to walk across the border now with no pedestrian lanes available,” she said.

Secondary school student Jasmine Tee said the new ruling would extend her travelling time to and from school. The 14 year-old student of Woodlands Secondary in Singapore said she was worried she would reach home very late in the evening.

“If I have to attend extra-curricular activities, I will have to take public transport home,” she said.

“Previously, I would walk across the causeway during a traffic jam and reach home at about 8pm.”

Johor Immigration director Mohd Nasri Ishak said pedestrians were not allowed to walk across the border because it was dangerous.

Southern Johor School Bus Association vice-president Lee Sin Min said they had gone to the new CIQ to check out the place to familiarise themselves with the routes and procedures.

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CIQ teething woes to go up before Cabinet

Postby admin » Tue Jan 06, 2009 4:45 am

JOHOR BARU: The problems pla­guing the new Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex will be brought to the attention of the Cabinet this week.

Johor Baru MP Datuk Shahrir Samad said that after the discussion at Cabinet level he hoped to visit the site this month to see how the problems could be tackled.

“I have been receiving complaints, and I am aware of the unhappiness,” he said yesterday.

Among the grouses raised by the public are narrow roads, long queues at the complex, poor signage, traffic congestion, and dirty toilets.

The people have also complained about not being allowed to walk across the Causeway, while business owners have said the new complex had taken their customers away as travellers now bypass the city centre where they are located.

Vandals have also struck at the complex less than a month after its opening, cutting holes in a perimeter fence and posing a possible security breach.

One of those who are unhappy with the complex, Malaysian Indian Business Council president P. Sivakumar, described the new complex as a nightmare for travellers.

“Last week, five businesses including two moneychangers and a restaurant had to close down. We expect the situation to worsen,” he said, adding that the complex was badly designed.

Sivakumar suggested that the old complex be reopened for motorcyclists and pedestrians. This would bring 5,000 to 10,000 travellers into the city again, he said.

Johor Immigration Director Mohd Nasri Ishak said the problems raised were similar to glitches experienced at the old complex located near the Causeway, and he was confident the problems would be overcome soon.

“Everyone must adjust to the new complex. The situation will eventually stabilise,” he said.

Meanwhile, Johor Baru (South) OCPD Asst Comm Zainuddin Yaakob said the police had not received any reports about the complex.

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CIQ plagued by complaints

Postby admin » Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:23 am

JOHOR BARU: The new Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex, has regularly been featured in the media but for all the wrong reasons since it started operations on Dec 16 last year.

The new and modern RM750mil complex was supposed to be the country’s pride when it was commissioned to replace the old CIQ, nearly after 40 years.

Unfortunately from day one, the CIQ has been the subject of various complaints, such as the congestion along the two-lane short term access into the CIQ, pedestrians having to walk a long way from the CIQ to get to town, poor signages and lack of bays for buses.

There were also complaints about narrow lanes for cars, pedestrians not allowed to walk across the causeway and even dirty toilets.

Previously a person could cross the 1km causeway within 15 minutes and easily get a bus to town but now the trip will easily take about 30 to 40 minutes including a 15 minute walk through a winding 1km road to the new CIQ, then to clear immigration before a long walk to Jalan Tun Abdul Razak, where the buses usually wait.

Various questions have arisen as to why these problems were not rectified when AMPM Sdn Bhd, which won a multi-million ringgit government contract to run the complex for five years with an additional five year extension, carried out several trial runs before the opening?

Small and Medium Enterprises Association of South Johor president Teh Kee Sim did not mince his words when he said that: ”The problems haunting us now indicates that no long term or holistic planning was done before the CIQ was built in 2003.”

One possibility he highlighted was the fact that the CIQ was built to cater for a bridge across the causeway into Singapore.

Whatever the reasons, the project is now costing taxpayers millions as compensation alone for cancelling the bridge project and building of a short-term access road had almost touched RM500mil.

Each day the disgruntled voices of the people using the new CIQ seems to be getting louder especially as the complex is not only used by about 60,000 commuters daily but it also provided livelihood for hundreds of business operators in Johor Baru town.

Surely the first to feel the pinch are dozens of moneychangers, restaurant owners, hawkers and traders who peddle cigarettes along Jalan Wong Ah Fook, Jalan Ngee Heng, Jalan Siew Chin and Jalan Segget.

Some of these business folk had reported that they had lost about 60% of their daily sales.

Many businessmen are already describing the new CIQ as the “JB killer” as 50% of the traffic bypasses Johor Baru town area via the new CIQ.

The situation is expected to get worse when the Government agencies in Johor Baru start moving to the new Johor State New Administrative Centre (JSNAC) in Nusajaya, about 30km away in the coming months.

“Is the government planning to turn Johor Baru into a ghost town. How will Iskandar Malaysia be a success without JB city?,” Malaysian Indian Business Council president P. Sivakumar asked.

He added that these problems were compounding to the present strain felt by businesses in the city especially with Singapore in a technical recession.

The time has come for our leaders especially the owners of the CIQ, the federal government, to visit the CIQ and talk to the people there and gauge the problems faced by thousand of Malaysians. Many workers and students leave their homes as early as 4am to get across to ensure they are not late for work or school in Singapore.

These workers are important to the country’s economy as they bring back millions of ringgit in foreign exchange and they have a right to air their grievances.

The government should direct AMPM Sdn Bhd to get its act together and rectify problems like broken fences and keep the toilets and walkways clean. A special committee comprising experts from various fields including traffic and town planning must be formed to ensure all the problems at the CIQ is rectified and mitigated.

The government must ensure that the permanent eight-lane-bridge link from the CIQ to the causeway is done quickly to ensure there will be no bottleneck at the RM200mil short term access road, which is causing the massive jams especially during peak hours.

Effort must be made to open up the old CIQ to pedestrians to ensure the businesses in the city continue to survive and a proper taxi stand should also be built to pick up and drop passengers.

The congestion at the new CIQ could further be eased if the KTM station at the causeway is allowed to provide shuttle service to Singapore Woodlands checkpoint during peak hours.

The Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) should also play a role by working with the Johor Baru City Council to draw up plans to spruce up Johor Baru to attract more visitors.

As for operations at the causeway, the committee should look into sending immigration and customs personnel for courtesy courses on how to treat visitors with a smile as they are the frontliners welcoming visitors into Malaysia.

Effort must also be made to place the Touch & Go readers at the immigration booths, similar to Singapore, as it is inconvenient for a driver to move his car a few metres after stamping his passport and again stop to use their Touch & Go card. Many of these problems at the CIQ could easily be rectified if the people tasked with planning and operating complex resolve these problems promptly.

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