Commuters stuck at JB-S’pore customs after Woodlands Checkpoint authorities raise panic alarm

Woodlands Checkpoint officers raise panic alarm on 22 Feb, causing crowds to form

The bus hall at Woodlands Checkpoint was temporarily locked down on Thursday (22 Feb) morning after officers raised a panic alarm.

One commuter who was stuck in the ‘human jam’ said the alarm suddenly sounded and officers came out looking for several Myanmar nationals.

The queues reportedly stretched to the point that many couldn’t enter the lobby for customs clearance.

Source: Facebook

When contacted, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said operations stopped in affected areas after the alarm sounded at 8.30am while officers investigated the matter.

Panic alarm sounds at Woodlands Checkpoint during peak hour

Shin Min Daily News reported that an alarm had sounded at Woodlands Checkpoint at around 8am on Thursday.

According to Mr Lim, a commuter who was at the scene, he was entering Singapore from Malaysia at around 8.15am when the alarm started to sound.

Mr Lim had posted in a Facebook group saying that the alarm had gone off and he’d been waiting for around 20 minutes at the customs hall.

There were not many people at the time, but when he was about to scan his passport to cross through the border, something unusual occurred.

“An alarm began to ring and several officers rushed out,” he recalled. “They said they were looking for a group of Myanmar nationals. Later, I saw four men and one woman being led away by officers.”

Mr Lim noted that these people appeared to have cleared customs, but officers brought them back for questioning.

Although he managed to clear customs, he was unable to leave. Officials asked him to get in a queue and have his documents and identity checked manually.

“The officers took my mobile phone, then verified my face, and then checked my passport, probably to make sure I was not the person they were looking for,” he said.

Checkpoint filled with people

Another member of the public, Ms Zhang (transliterated from Chinese), said there was already a large crowd of people when she arrived at the customs hall.

“The front wasn’t moving at all, and the alarm was also sounding,” the 25-year-old civil servant told Shin Min Daily News. “I overheard the staff saying that they were looking for Burmese people. I think someone scanned their passport and triggered the alarm.”

Others also posted images of the checkpoint being filled with people.

Source: Facebook

Many of them were unable to enter the lobby and could only wait outside. Some even started queuing from downstairs.

ICA confirms it activated panic alarm

In response to media queries, ICA said it activated a panic alarm at around 8.30am.

Authorities stopped operations at the immigration area while officers investigated the situation, ICA told The Straits Times (ST).

The lockdown affected those who entered via the bus hall, but not those who entered in vehicles such as cars or motorcycles.

They added that clearance at the affected area resumed at around 9am.

“After investigations, it was established that there had been no incident of concern,” ICA confirmed.

Operations were stopped temporarily during the lockdown to enable investigations to be carried out smoothly without compromising public safety and security.

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