Lyna Mohamad & Daniel Lim
Light traffic was observed at the Kuala Lurah, Labu and Sungai Tujoh control posts yesterday, contrary to predictions that the August 1 re-opening of land and sea borders would inevitably bring with it painfully long queues.
From 6am to noon, only a handful of vehicles were reported to have passed through the Kuala Lurah Control Post, most of them Malaysian-registered vehicles or commercial vehicles.
“The traffic was smooth,” said Health Inspector Dayangku Hani Mastika binti Pengiran Haji Sulaiman, who led a team from the Port Health Unit, Environmental Health Division of the Ministry of Health (MoH), in performing exit and entry health screenings at the post.
“So far there has been no queue, with a roughly 10-minute interval between the arrivals of vehicles. The health screening process has also been smooth sailing.”
Dayangku Hani Mastika, however, believed that the scenario will play out differently during weekends or at the end of the month, once school holidays begin.
Anticipating a busier weekend, she reminded border hoppers to have on hand all required documents to facilitate health officers in discharging their duties. While mobile phone screenshots of these documents are accepted, she recommended carrying a hard copy to hasten the process.
For locals or foreigners entering Brunei, they will need to fill in the Arrival Declaration Form and show their vaccination records. Insurance is required for foreigners intending to stay less than 90 days, unless they are transiting.
Meanwhile, Deputy Superintendent of Customs Durratul Aini binti Haji Abdul Khan reminded the public to apply for the Customs Exit and Entry System (EES) online to avoid congestion.
“We do have an EES kiosk here, however we strongly advise travellers to make online payment,” she added.
Senior Immigration Officer Haji Md Aimin bin Haji Md Yassin said, “There have been minimal border crossing activities today. Most of them were Malaysians returning to Limbang or transiting Limbang to Temburong and Lawas, as well as commercial vehicles passing through to cross over to Malaysia.
“Unless Bruneians have families to visit in Limbang, they are likelier to make use of the Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien (SHOAS) Bridge to get to Sabah,” he said.
Some border hoppers opted to use the pedestrian channel, among them Malaysian pensioners and a mother carrying her baby.
The scene bore little difference at the Labu Control Post, with a low number of travellers reported.
The Sungai Tujoh Control Post saw slightly busier times, although travellers’ feedback leaned towards being able to cross the border with ease.
Malaysian Zulfahmi bin Azali, who resides in Kampong Panaga, expressed gratitude and jubilation for the re-opening of land and sea borders, adding that he was headed to Miri for leisure.
“It is very easy to cross the border now and that’s a good sign. Hopefully, this can be maintained,” he added.
Meanwhile, Bahri told the Bulletin it took two hours to get from Serusop all the way past the Sungai Tujoh Control Post.
“This is my first trip to Miri since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am excited and I plan to shop,” Bahri said, before adding that the border control systems in place are adequate and easy to understand.
The land and sea control posts operates daily from 6am to 6pm.