You can no longer just sit pretty at Singapore’s Land Checkpoints
Frequent commuters to Singapore better get your hand sanitisers ready because soon, you’ll have to go through thumbprint scans to enter and exit the island state, at both the Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints. The implementation of the BioScreen system already started in 2015, with trial at the ferry terminal, and since 2016, at Changi Airport as well as train, bus and goods vehicle passengers. It will eventually be implemented at all checkpoints, whether by air, land or sea.
So, there’s nothing unusual with thumbprint scans before being granted entry into a country. However, the driving public is giving the thumbs down (lame pun, but so intended) for this additional layer of security, in anticipation of the extra queueing time. The new system requires ALL occupants to exit the vehicle to perform the scan, except for those who are below six years old because, you know, before they hit the age of six, they are still little terrors but it’s still cute. Thumbprint verification is a stricter way of denying entry (or departure) of red-flagged travellers, such as false identity thieves.
The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) was not forthcoming with a date of commencement, but when implemented, it will be done progressively at the car counters.
The ICA did say that “travellers may experience slightly longer immigration clearance time”. “Slightly” might be an understatement. Presently, the passengers remain in the vehicle and hand over their passports for visual verification. Imagine if whole families have to shuffle out of the vehicle and shuffle back in. Imagine one of those 7-seater MPVs, and seats have to be folded and unfolded and rear passengers have to get in and out one at a time…
Still, we’re not saying that Singapore shouldn’t implement thumbprint verification, but maybe a mobile thumbprint scanning device might speed things up…it’s always easier and much faster to pass one small gadget around than to herd a group of people from one spot to another, that’s all.