ALOR STAR: The state government has, in principle, agreed with the Federal government to extend operations at the border checkpoint at Bukit Kayu Hitam to 24 hours from 18 presently.
At the State Legislative Assembly here today, Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah said that the government has scrutinised all relevant issues on extending operation hours, in particular, security.
He said agencies at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex at Bukit Kayu Hitam are fully prepared for the change and would not compromise border security.
Ahmad Bashah said the operations extension will encourage foreign visitor arrivals and reduce traffic congestion at the CIQ complex during peak hours.
"The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister (as Home Minister) gave their nod to the move during the Menteri Besar and Chief Ministers' Meeting," Ahmad Bashah said in response to a question from Datuk Ahmad Zaini Jaapar (BN-Bukit Kayu Hitam).
He said the round-the-clock operation should not be assessed from a negative perspective, as it will be of socio-economic benefit to Kedah, particularly through developments in the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Triangle.
"We can earn profit from transportation (charges and so on), especially from vehicles from Thailand which carry agricultural goods, vegetables and fruits into the country," he said.
Ahmad Bashah added that the 24-hour proposal, once materialised, will spur Bukit Kayu Hitam's growth as an industrial area, particularly in view of the state government's plan to establish a 6,000-acre tax-free zone there.
"The private sector also owns land there and we will combine our resources to build facilities to woo visitors, such as those from Thailand.
"They will be able to come at any time, because we have hotels, houses, and shopping complexes, and the money spent by the visitors will flow into the new area," he added.-- BERNAMA