BUKIT KAYU HITAM, April 13 — Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today called for speeding up of the construction of the new Immigration, Customs, Quarantine and Security Complex here that has fallen behind by almost 20 months.
Ahmad Zahid, who is also the Home Minister, said the government was serious in wanting the complex to be up and running to overcome the problems at the existing complex.
“This is in tandem with the directive of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak under the National Logistics Policy to step up Malaysia’s role in the logistics system of the Asean countries, especially the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT),” he said.
He spoke to reporters after a visit to the site of the new ICQS complex here.
He was accompanied by Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Johari Baharum.
Ahmad Zahid said the existing complex was becoming incapable of accommodating the rise in the movement of commercial vehicles and passengers, causing congestion of vehicles for up to four kilometres during the peak periods.
The first phase of construction of the complex is 45.9 per cent complete, and Ahmad Zahid wants it to be completed by August.
“In August, several tests will be carried out on the routes used specially to bring goods into Malaysia.
“After that, we will implement the second phase and the project will be completed by Dec 31, 2018. It is hoped that in 2019 we can translate the policy into action,” he said, adding that the project being undertaken under the Private Funding Initiative cost RM425 million.
Ahmad Zahid said that with the new complex in full operation, the government would be able to collect more duty on commercial goods than the current annual RM600 million.
“In fact, the government expects more tourists as well because right now the tourist movement is three million annually,” he said.
Ahmad Zahid said he would make a return visit in 45 days to look at the progress of construction.
On a proposal to operate the Bukit Kayu Hitam and Padang Besar (Perlis) border entry-exit points round the clock, Ahmad Zahid said he would meet Thailand Deputy Defence Minister Udomdej Sitabutr to discuss the details and date of implementation.
He also said that his counterpart in Bangkok was agreeable to the proposal but implementation was subject to a General Border Committee agreement.
“We will conduct monitoring through the National Security Council and will address the question of security with the omnipresence method.
“We have deployed the General Operations Force at the entry-exit points without having to create new posts, seek additional budget or establish an agency. We will make use of the available administrative resources,” he said.
Ahmad Zahid said the security personnel deployed at the border entry-exit points would be substituted every three months to ensure nobody entered the country without valid travel documents or by way of “a show of the hand” as had happened.
“We will install modern equipment and introduce several new methods and standard operating procedures coordinated by the National Security Council. The Customs will install several scanners so that goods are screened not only manually,” he said.
On the Vehicle Entry Permit charge, he said it would be officially imposed on Sept 1, after the government conducted several tests. — Bernama