Immigration clearance system down: Stomper at Changi Airport says 'there was no order'

Submitted by Stomper DT

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Long queues at the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints are commonplace, but a "system slowness" on Friday (March 31) caused delays for travellers at Changi Airport as well.

Stomper DT was at Terminal 4 when it happened.

"The automated system for departure clearance was down," recounted the Stomper, who shared photos of the crowd at the airport.

"Other passengers mentioned that it had been down since 11am. There was no order or direction except ICA (Immigration and Checkpoints Authority) officers shouting instructions that couldn't be heard and letting people cluster together and jam the entrance.

"The officers were allowing passengers in based on their boarding time, but instructions weren't clear and made known as no speakers were used."

At 11.30am, ICA said on Facebook: "ICA is currently experiencing system slowness at selected passenger clearance checkpoints. Clearance is still ongoing. Delays are expected and travellers are advised to postpone all non-essential travel, where applicable."

About an hour later, Changi Airport posted: "An immigration system disruption has affected the auto-lanes for departing and arriving passengers across the terminals. Passengers should expect delays and approach our ground staff if assistance is needed."

At 4pm after normal operations resumed, Changi Airport posted: "During the disruption, there was delay to arrival and departure processes in Changi. Despite giving priority to passengers with imminent departures, a small number of passengers missed their flights. We provided assistance with rebooking and other arrangements."

At 9.30pm, ICA said in a statement that at about 10.40am, automated immigration clearance at the checkpoints became unavailable.

"Preliminary investigations found that there was a technical glitch during a pre-scheduled system upgrade, and this caused an unanticipated system overload," said ICA.

"Automated clearance lanes at all the departure terminals at Changi Airport were affected, as well as the arrival terminals at Terminals 2 and 4.

"Certain automated lanes for departing and arriving bus passengers, and all the automated lanes for motorcycles, at both Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints, were also affected.

"ICA immediately activated our business continuity plan. Travellers were redirected to manual counters for immigration clearance. Off-duty officers were immediately recalled, and these additional resources were deployed to man all the manual immigration counters and perform crowd control.

"We advised travellers, through the Expressway Monitoring & Advisory System and radio broadcasts, as well as through ICA’s Facebook account, to factor in additional time for immigration clearance.

"Automated immigration clearance progressively resumed, and full normalcy was restored at about 4pm.

"ICA apologises for the inconvenience caused, and would like to thank travellers for their understanding, patience, and cooperation with our officers on the ground. We are conducting a thorough investigation and will be putting in place additional safeguards to prevent reoccurrence."