It was reported yesterday (20 Dec) that ICA is blaming bomb hoax, cars breaking down and rampant queue-cutting by commuters for “exacerbating” the jams at both Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints.
Netizens have taken to the ICA’s Facebook page complaining about the long queues to clear immigration at the checkpoints. Many have observed that ICA did not bother to open up more booths to cope with the long queue generated from the slow immigration clearance by ICA.
In a statement to the media on Wed (19 Dec), ICA said that the traffic jams at the checkpoints last weekend was “exacerbated by motorists who failed to observe lane discipline through rampant queue-cutting”.
“Additionally, cars had broken down on the Causeway on two occasions during this period, and there was one bomb hoax incident. These led to severe congestion for both arriving and departing traffic,” it added.
It also said that its officers “are working round the clock and doing their utmost to ensure that travellers’ needs continue to be met without compromising security”.
“During this peak period, ICA officers have put in many overtime hours. All our available resources are being used. From time to time, during shift changes or redeployment of officers to other high traffic areas, certain counters may have to be temporarily closed,” it added.
In other words, ICA has implicitly acknowledged that “certain counters” were “temporarily closed” due to “shift changes or redeployment of officers to other high traffic areas”. That is to say, ICA does not have enough manpower to cope with the situation.
ICA’s budget increased by 24% from last year
However, looking at the budgets allocated to ICA in 2017 and 2018, one can see that the government has in fact increased ICA’s budget by 24%.
In 2017, ICA’s budget was declared as $817,893,800:
This year, it was increased by $196,268,500 (24%) to $1,014,162,300:
Despite the 24% increase in budget, somehow, ICA still needs to close “certain counters “temporarily” due to “shift changes or redeployment of officers to other high traffic areas”.
That is to say, the almost $200 million increase in its budget did not give ICA the necessary manpower or resources to cope with the jams experienced by commuters at the two land checkpoints connecting Johor.
One, therefore, has to ask what did ICA do with the extra $200 million it obtained in this year’s budget?