Singapore waiting for Malaysia’s decision on the 2 plots of land needed for Woodlands Checkpoint expansion

SINGAPORE: A spokesperson for the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) has said that Singapore is waiting for an answer from Malaysia regarding the proposal to buy two plots of land belonging to the Federal Lands Commissioner of Malaysia, which is part of the plan to redevelop Woodlands Checkpoint.

ICA announced at the end of January that it would be redeveloping Woodlands Checkpoint (WCP) to address chronic traffic problems in the area but that the redevelopment would not disrupt ongoing operations at WCP. The planned redevelopment is designed to make Woodlands Checkpoint five times its current size.

On Friday (Feb 23), The Straits Times (ST) reported the ICA spokesperson saying that Singapore wrote a proposal to Malaysia to buy the two small plots of land in May 2022 and November 2023.

On Sunday (Feb 18), Malaysian newspaper The Star reported that Malaysian officials were still deliberating the proposal.

“Singapore has written to Malaysia (to purchase the land). The relevant authority in Malaysia is deliberating it. So far, we have not received any feedback from them,” Malaysian High Commissioner to Singapore Datuk Dr Azfar Mohamad Mustafar is quoted as having said to members of the media the day before.

The land, which is 0.93 hectares (2.3 acres) in size, could either be sold or swapped, as Dr Azfar has proposed. He added, however, that the final decision regarding the land belongs to the federal government.

The spokesperson for ICA told ST that without the two plots of land, the authority will “not be able to optimise the checkpoint’s redevelopment,” which is being carried out “in order to enhance the immigration clearance experience for Singapore and Malaysia travellers using the Causeway.”

The issue regarding the proposed sale had been brought up at the Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia meeting in July 2023 as well as the Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat in October of that year, when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim the reasons for the redevelopment of Woodlands Checkpoint.

Mr Anwar had been supportive of the sale, which he said Malaysia would facilitate, ST added.

Moreover, at the meeting in July, both countries pledged to improve the traffic situation at the border.

In 2000, a year after the Woodlands Checkpoint opened, there were 230,000 travellers daily. This has since increased to 300,000 daily travellers and even more on long weekends and holidays.

By 2050, the number of daily travellers passing through Woodlands Checkpoint is projected to reach 400,000.

While ICA has carried out a number of initiatives to increase clearance efficiency without compromising the security of Singapore’s borders, these efforts are ultimately limited by space and infrastructural constraints. /TISG

Read also: ICA: Woodlands Checkpoint expansion will make it 5 times bigger

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