BELAIT, Brunei (The Brunei Times/ANN) - Long queue of cars forming along the border checkpoints over the weekend
Motorists took advantage of the newly-extended Brunei-Malaysia border operating hours after a long queue was seen stretching from the Asean Bridge in Miri until Sg Tujoh Control Post from 10pm to 12pm last Sunday.
Motorists were seen lining up en route to Brunei from Miri, with a queue forming around 10pm, just before the toll section of the Asean Bridge, located just over a kilometre from Malaysian immigration checkpoint.
The queue was seen for the majority of the two-kilometre route connecting the bridge located at Batang Baram to Brunei’s control post, only abating over a small stretch of road housing Malaysia’s old immigration checkpoint.
Brunei’s control post stayed open until 12:30am to clear the queue.
The formal extension of operating hours at all Bruneian land control posts was announced by Brunei’s Immigration and National Registration Department on August 30.
The announcement came after the annual leaders’ consultation between Brunei and Malaysia last month, where both countries agreed to an extension to overcome difficulties faced by people who travel between the two countries regularly.
Previously, the border checkpoints operate from 6am to 10pm, but operating hours were extended until 12am starting from September 1.
According to a senior Brunei customs officer on duty on Monday, this was the first time border operations had to be temporarily extended past midnight since the extension came into effect.
“The overall number of cars entering and exiting, based on current records, has yet to dramatically increase since the extension. But what we are seeing is a shift in preference among motorists towards entering the control post at a later hour,” said the customs officer, who did not want to be named.
He said last Sunday saw the border close for the first time past 12, but records showed that Sunday did not have the highest overall number of vehicles entering the sultanate over the course of last week.
“Our records show around 1,500 vehicles entering last Sunday, compared to 2,600 on Saturday and 2,500 on Friday,” he said.
“It is just on Sunday that a large portion of the traffic for that day happened to come in after 10pm, while on the other days it was more evenly spread out.”
With school holidays beginning last weekend, traffic exiting Brunei was also higher than average, with over 8,000 cars leaving for Miri from last Friday to Sunday. From September 1 to 6, over 20,000 cars entered and left the Sg Tujoh Control Post.
The customs officer also said small extensions, between 10 and 30 minutes, were common prior to the midnight border extension to clear long queues in times of heavier traffic flow during the weekends and public holidays.
“Previously, when there was a line (of vehicles) and it was almost 10pm, we will clear the queue before closing operations. We will do the same now, if and when necessary,” he said.
Traffic flow into Miri was minimal during the same period.