Photo: @mrch_saboten

On Friday (31 Mar), the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) of Singapore issued a warning to travelers regarding “system slowness” at select passenger clearance checkpoints, resulting in delays that afternoon.

The ICA advised travelers to postpone non-essential travel and apologized for any inconvenience caused.

The disruption in the system also affected auto-lanes for departing and arriving passengers across all terminals at Changi Airport. Motorists entering Singapore via the Woodlands or Tuas Checkpoints reported waiting in queues with no reprieve in sight.

The ICA recalled off-duty officers to provide additional support in managing the situation and maintaining law and order.

At around 3:44 pm that same day, the ICA made an official announcement on their Facebook page that immigration clearance at all checkpoints had resumed normal operations.

As the ICA investigates to determine the root cause of the system disruption, many netizens have expressed surprise at the prolonged outage, which the government has claimed is rare in their country as they strive towards becoming a “Smart Nation.”

Several netizens have stated that this level of disruption is not acceptable for Singapore as a developed country, and that the world’s number one airport should not have such a significant blunder.

However, other comments suggest that the responsibility for identifying and resolving the problem should be left to the ICA, and that the officers working tirelessly to address the issue should not be blamed.

Some netizens ctiticised the government for failing to anticipate major digital system disruption

Some had criticised the authority should investigate the matter, and suggested that this might indicate that the authorities foresee no immediate resolution to the problem.

However, others noted that the system disruption affected not only the airport but also the land checkpoints across the entire country. Given the large number of people traveling, the ICA’s statement asking people to defer their trips is unnecessary as there are few who can postpone their trips without incurring significant penalties.

A netizen said the incident shows the government the problem of everything digitalises, as there should always be a manual backup in case of incidents like this.

Another netizen shared this sentiment, suggesting that the world has placed too much trust in machines and digitalization, and that just one such incident is enough to spoil the reputation of the system.

‘First time exprerienced such disruption’

A netizen commented that in his 25 years of travel history through Changi, this was the first time he experienced such a disruption.

He suggested that while it is important to be digitally ready, there should also be drills in place to ensure that when the system fails, people can swiftly revert to basic operations to create at least 50% efficiency.

Urges to identify reasons behind disruption

Some comments have urged the investigation to identify the reasons or person(s) accountable for this major disruption.

One netizen even questioned whether the minister in charge should be the one to answer for this debacle.

Netizen mocked the incident resemblance to earlier DBS digital services disruption

Some netizens even made fun of the incident, drawing comparisons to the earlier disruption of DBS’ digital services on Wednesday (29 Mar), which prevented users from logging in.

One netizen disagreed with other ‘unkind comment’, noting that while it is unacceptable for Changi airport to experience such a severe disruption and someone may be accountable for it, the airport and its staff have worked hard for many years and have made Singapore proud, but few people take the time to compliment them.

“However when our airport fell this time, so many took the opportunity to give them a “kick”.”

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