PADANG BESAR: If you are planning to travel by road into Thailand via the Padang Besar border checkpoint here, do expect an additional 30 minutes delay.
Keep in mind that it may take even longer during weekends and peak hours for a procedure which took less than a minute to be completed.
The delay is due to the ongoing upgrading works at the Immigration, Customs and Quarantine (ICQS) Complex here, which goes on until June 2019.
Based on record, on an average some 1,500 people cross the border checkpoint here during weekdays and the number doubles during weekends and public holidays.
Checks between 9am and 11am today showed there was a 300 metre queue of cars and buses, from the border checkpoint stretching to outside the complex.
Padang Besar Immigration Department acting chief Rosli Issak said the upgrading works involved the construction of additional Immigration counters and a building.
He said the upgrading works were being carried out in phases, where focus was given to upgrading of counters at the exit points for the first six months beginning June this year.
He said this would be followed by another six months of constructing additional counters at the entry points next year.
At present, there were two immigration counters for cars, one for motorcycles and two for buses.
"By the time the project is completed, there will be three counters for cars, one for motorcycles and four for buses," he said.
Besides two new counters, the checkpoint for buses would also be equipped with roof and air-conditioners, similar to the new complex in Thailand.
Rosli said the department together with other agencies at the complex were doing their best to reduce the traffic congestion throughout the upgrading project.
One of the measures was by diverting lorries without any load, which normally using the bus lane, to the commerce or Customs lanes.
"The project will take about two years to be completed and we hope everyone bears with us as the project is meant to provide more efficient and convenient services to border travellers..
"We are anticipating a higher volume of vehicles at the border checkpoint due to a week-long school holiday beginning today and tomorrow," he told reporters after receiving a visit from the Titi Tinggi assemblyman Khaw Hock Kong who voiced concern among local folks over congestion at the border checkpoint.
A local trader, Khoo Choon Wuei, 37, a regular traveller to southern Thailand was feeling the pinch as he had to wait longer to pass the border checkpoint .
"I have to travel to Thailand often either to meet my customers. Also, most of us who live in the bordertown preferred to buy vegetables, meat and other groceries at the Sunday market on the Thailand side as the prices are cheaper compared to the local market.
"Previously, it took less than one minute to have our travel documents verified by the Immigration officer at the border checkpoint.
"We did not have to get out of the car but for the last three weeks motorists have to park their vehicles and line up at the counters due to the ongoing renovation works," he said.