Last Updated on 2023-06-05 , 11:57 am
A new record has been established. No, not in the sporting field, the arts field or the science field.
This is a record on an international scale.
We are talking about how the number of visitors across the Causeway broke a record over the start of this long weekend thanks to the Vesak Day public holiday in Singapore.
Here is what happened.
A Record Number of Visitors Passing Through the SG-JB Checkpoints on 1 June
The long weekend in Singapore started on 2 June (Vesak Day), but it seemed like people were already starting to take a holiday one day before.
On 1 June 2023, a weekday, a Thursday, a record number of people passed through the land borders between Singapore and our closest neighbour, Johor Bahru.
In a Facebook post made by the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, it was announced that “close to 250,000 travellers departed Singapore through Woodlands and Tuas Checkpoints”.
The shocking part? This was the “highest since the reopening of the borders”.
We guess the COVID-19 pandemic is really a thing of the past now, and people are no longer cowering at the thought of being in a crowd of people.
This record surpasses that made earlier this year in April when over 235,000 people left Singapore via the land border checkpoints in Woodlands and Tuas.
That previous record was due to the Good Friday long weekend. Over the entire long weekend, close to 1.4 million travellers cleared the checkpoints between 6 April and 9 April.
How many people do you think will be travelling between the borders during this long weekend?
In case you still cannot grasp how bad the situation got, we have some pictures to put things in perspective for you.
The Facebook account “Singapore JB Checkpoints Live Traffic Updates” shared the queueing situation at one of the checkpoints at 11.40 am yesterday. In the pictures, hordes of people can be seen queueing to clear customs.
To nobody’s surprise, the hold-up appeared from the pictures to be on the Malaysian side. After all, the electronic gates, which most people can use when exiting the Singapore side of customs, are quite efficient.
Here are some pictures for your reference. Of course, the customs hall itself was packed to the brim.
Then, the queues extended to outside the hall, down the escalators and further down the path. We sure hope those escalators were not in operation so that no travellers would have to scramble to exit the escalators amidst the swarm of people.
In the picture below, you can see the less common sight of the queues stretched outside the building.
cHere is another angle of the queues outside of the building, where queues stretched through the bend in the road.
This would have been your point of view if you were stuck at the tail end of the queue. Thankfully there is some shade. If not, you would be chao da (burnt) even before you can begin your holiday.
Can you imagine queueing for hours only to move slightly up front in the queue and still be outside the building, exposed to the elements and without aircon?
We would faint.
Unsurprisingly, some people were also seen queueing or milling around on the roads. After all, how can such large crowds stay solely on the pavement?
Before you scoff at these people for being silly to cross the land borders by foot, know that even those atas people with cars did not manage to escape the queues.
According to Mothership, referencing the status updates on the Checkpoints.sg application, the queues for cars to enter Malaysia via the land borders were between three to four and a half hours.
Long lines of cars were seen queueing to enter Malaysia via the Tuas checkpoint at around 2.30 pm yesterday.
Similar snaking queues were seen near the Woodlands checkpoint as well. We can already hear the impatient honking of all the cars just by looking at the pictures.
The poor traffic conditions were also echoed in Facebook posts, such as that made by Astro Radio Traffic yesterday.
The post shared that it was at least a three-hour wait to enter Johor Bahru through the Woodlands checkpoint. Images of long queues formed by cars were also attached to the post.
Apart from these updates, netizens were also sharing their experiences of the queue online.
One netizen who allegedly travelled from Singapore to Johor Bahru shared her experience online when she left a comment on a Xiaohongshu post about the long customs queues. Xiaohongshu (literally translated to Little Red Book) is a popular social media platform used in Singapore and Malaysia.
According to the commenter, she took the bus leaving Singapore around 11 pm at night but only reached Malaysian customs at about 6 am the next morning.
What a nightmare.
Of course, her experience was met with shock and disbelief from netizens.
In the replies to the commenter, some asked if what she said was “true”.
Others commented that the situation was “ridiculous” or “beyond belief”.
There were also other netizens who queried whether the cause of the delay was the public buses or tour buses.
Another netizen made a Facebook post expressing the opinion that the Malaysian government should be doing more to alleviate these pain points of queues.
The caption said that the Malaysian government always says that a “drop in ringgit is good for the [Malaysian] economy” because “more [Singaporeans go to] Johor” but that might not actually be the case because of “this kind of traffic in both checkpoints”.
An image of a long car queue was attached to this post.
Now, don’t you wish you had the foresight to book a train ticket into Johor Bahru or apply to use the electronic gates in Malaysia?
Vesak Day Long Weekend and June Holidays Are Amongst the Culprits
If you are scratching your head as to why the number of travellers surged so wildly, we have some answers for you.
One of the reasons is that this weekend is a long weekend, given that the Vesak Day public holiday falls on a Friday.
And this appears to be the last public holiday which falls on a Friday for the rest of the year.
Thankfully, it is not the last long weekend of the year. We still have the Deepavali public holiday (falling on a Sunday in November) and Christmas Day (falling on a Monday in December).
With at least three days to play and revel, what’s not to like going overseas for a quick escapade?
The second culprit is the June holidays. In 2023, the June holidays run from 27 May to 25 June, as the Ministry of Education announced last year.
This means that there are tons of children out and about, ready to play (or be bogged down by additional tuition and enrichment classes).
A short trip to a nearby country is definitely more economical than going to popular tourist destinations such as South Korea, Japan, Thailand or Bali, as no flights are involved. You can also pack light and buy the items you need over there since the exchange rates are favourable for those who earn Singapore dollars.
For those who are parents or have families with school-going children, what better time is there to travel than when the school holidays and public holidays coincide?
A bonus reason we think also contributed to the crowds is the Malaysian ringgit hitting new lows in recent days. Earlier this week, the Malaysian ringgit slumped to 3.41 against the Singapore dollar.
This means that all the shopping, eating and travelling in Malaysia could cost you only a third of what you would be spending in Singapore.
- Here’s What the “What Cake R U” Viral Quiz is All About
- Google’s AI Might Also Be Trained by Reddit Content
- Leong Mun Wai Steps Down As PSP Chief to “Take Responsibility” for Recent POFMA He Received
- NEA Responds to Sign Cautioning Others About “Ghosts” in a Cemetery
- Zika Could Possibly be Spreading in Boon Lay Place; Residents Urged to Protect Themselves
- Everything About the Sky Lantern Saga in Sentosa & Why It Happened
- WhatsApp Has Added 4 New Text Formatting. Here Are The Codes to Use