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Singapore, Malaysia looking at timing, operational details of easing land border crossing

Singapore, Malaysia looking at timing, operational details of easing land border crossing

A bus carrying passengers crosses the Causeway between Singapore and Malaysia on Nov 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

SINGAPORE: Authorities in Singapore and Malaysia are in discussions on when and how measures on land border crossings between the two countries can ease, and will share the details when they are ready, said Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong on Friday (Mar 11).

Earlier this week, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the country would fully reopen its borders on Apr 1 as it begins to transition to a COVID-19 endemic phase. 

In response to queries by CNA on the announcement by Mr Ismail Sabri, the Ministry of Trade and Industry had said that the details on the land crossings were being worked out. 

From Monday, the daily quota of people that can travel under the land vaccinated travel lane by coach between Singapore and Malaysia will rise from 2,160 to 3,420. This is on top of air vaccinated travel lanes between Singapore and the Malaysian cities of Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

Responding to a reporter's question on Friday on what "benchmarks" the Government was considering, Mr Gan said that this would include "operational details".

"I can share that we will be looking at cars, motorcycles and additional buses, including private coaches that may be engaged by companies for their workers to go to-and-fro," he said at the virtual press conference held by the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force.

"We are looking at various aspects and this also involves significant adjustment and fine-tuning of the operations on the ground."

He highlighted that currently there are a few thousand crossings a day, while "in time to come", there may be a "significant number" of people crossing on a daily basis.

"Therefore it is a major undertaking," said Mr Gan. 

"Our land authority, our immigration department are in close discussion with our counterparts and also looking at operational details to ensure that when we are able to allow more traffic to cross, it can be done so smoothly and safely."

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung added that the timing of the easing is also under discussion between the two countries' health ministries.

"The two ministries of health are in constant touch and I think we need to time it right ... It must be done when the pandemic situation on both sides allow it," he said, adding that the date cannot be "predetermined".

"But this is something we are watching closely and when conditions allow, then we can talk about reopening," said Mr Ong.

Watch the full news conference, including the Q&A session with journalists:

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Source: CNA/hm(rw)

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