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A traveller having his thumbprints scanned at the Woodlands checkpoint (Source: Lianhe Zaobao).

Negativity expressed towards ICA’s trial of BioScreen system for car travellers

In a Straits Times report dated Tuesday (26 September), it is reported that the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) will be progressively expanding the trial of the BioScreen system for car travellers arriving and departing through Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints.

ICA will perform BioScreen clearance for car travellers aged six and above. The driver and passengers arriving and departing via the Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints will be required to step out of their car and scan both thumbprints when they seek immigration clearance at the car counters.

Launched in April 2016, it has been rolled out to various clearance zones at our land checkpoints such as for train and bus travellers, and lorries and goods vehicles.

ICA will implement BioScreen at car counters progressively, to allow travellers time to become familiar with this new process.

Assistant Commissioner Chua Sze How, commander at Woodlands Command, told ST, "The security of the country is of utmost importance to us. However, we will calibrate and adjust our implementation according to prevailing security assessments, and we will monitor the ground situation closely."

Many Singaporeans express their concerns regarding the matter as it may be uncomfortable for elderly and disabled passangers. Commenting on this, AC Chua said, "For travellers who require special assistance, our officers will assess each situation and render assistance accordingly."

The report further said that Singapore's land checkpoints are among the busiest in the world, with more than 400,000 crossings daily.

ICA then noted on its statement that with the implementation of BioScreen at car counters, travellers may experience slightly longer immigration clearance time.

In response to the news, netizens expressed negatively at the move due to the perceived inconvenience created for the travellers.

Arthur Tan wrote, "Get a remote control thumbprint scanner,and have the passengers scan in their car, while the car in front is engaged in passport clearance."

Calvin tham wrote, "So.... that means a 6 year old child or older, would be required to step out of the car. Proceed to the window, and someone needs to lift the child up in order to reach for the fingerprint scanner? Brilliant! Great Idea! Only First World SG can come up with this implementation. Did they even consider safety aspects for the child? A 6-10 year old kid will usually be at blind spots of a car, especially so when more and more are into CrossOvers and SUVs. Not forgetting, all the carbon monoxide within the enclosed CIQ."

Loh Wai poon wrote, "My experience with thumbprint scanning is rather bad. I volunteer at the airport and we enter the transit area through thumbprint scanning in addition to our security pass. It is common the scanner cannot recognise efficiently our thumbprints and we have to repeat a few times or soak our thumbs with water to improve scanning. The ICA checkpoints at Tuas n Woodlands are busy places n the delays cause by the scanner problems can build up a long queue very quickly. I hope the authority has tested the system vigorously and sorted out all the scanning issues. It cannot be like the SMRT signalling testing breakdown again."

Naidu Billy wrote, "The top people would not understand the problem. They just breeze thru the immigration. but wait. Then there is the wayang show. Few top brass will use the causeway. Non-peak hours, with the lanes cleared, then declare that it was smooth and no inconvenience caused. Knn!!"

Pat Eng wrote, "It's good to open a tow truck company. Sure lots of over heated engines. As Ronald Reagan said government is not the solution to our problem government is the problem."

Terence Tan wrote, "The irony is even with Finger Print Scanning, Bike lane still jam. Why? Because a lot of the automated counter for finger print scanning are closed. The arrow will indicate the counter is available but actually it is not. Did not know that Automation counters needs off days as well."

Mohammad Ammar Azhar wrote, "Smart Nation? The government cant even implement existing-less-smarter system?! In Jurong island, the security checkpoint uses remote thumbprint scanners. Passengers do not need to get out of the car. Why the government talking about big things but the government sectors cant even implement small things. The government wants to have opulent roofs but having thin pillars. "

Lai Voon Choong wrote, "I think I'll stop going JB or nearby Malaysia cities unless it is absolutely necessary. The queuing time to go thru customs from Singapore side along will increase 1-3 folds!"

Vivian Liew wrote, "Oh dear. At that age - right up until age 11 or so - the ink pad used for my passport could register my thumbprint just fine, but for some reason, even the expensive fingerprint locks couldn't. This was several years ago, but still, there's gonna be at least a few poor sods like me unless they use the super good quality ones."

Matthew Tjow wrote, "How is this going to be efficient? All the people getting down the car, scan, wait, scan again (if fail) then wait, then get up the car. And if I have 7 people in the car, I multiply by 7 times the time taken. Huat liao loh."

Sam Neo wrote, "Facial recognition la china already have these and we still thumb print? Some more must step out !! This only double the time in the jam."

W Ryan Darastrix wrote, "Since we are going to have a GPS ERP system, why not we introduce thumb print scanner integrate into the car it self? Like this the driver and passenger don't need to step out, can save cost, improve security and can implement other security services in the near future."

Dewei Lin wrote, "Not sure if the fingerprint scanner on our phones are graded enough to do a proxy to their machine at the custom? Then everyone just stay in the car to scan with their phone will do. Of course those without will get down to scan."

Imr Isk wrote, "Just a consideration, I believe the lanes where the car enter to the ICA officer booth is quite narrow. How will the doors of the car be able to open fully for the passengers to disembark? There should also be consideration of safety for the alighting passengers."

George Er wrote, "6 years old but passport made 2 years ago. Size of thumbprint already have so much discrepancy. Sure cause reading error. Have the authority already thought about child growth issue when requesting a 6 years old child to scan thumbprint?"