JOHOR BARU, MALAYSIA - Many foreigners were caught unawares that the implementation of the Immigration embarkation cards at all checkpoints in the country had restarted.
Scores of people were seen yesterday scurrying to collect the cards from Immigration officials stationed at the Causeway checkpoint.
Vehicles also slowed to a crawl as some drivers filled their forms in their cars at the checkpoint.
Singaporean businessman James Wee, 56, said the system was very inefficient as Immigration officials had refused to give him the cards on Thursday afternoon.
"I came here and asked for some cards, but they said no. If they had given out the cards yesterday, the jam and inconvenience could have been avoided," he said.
He also said the officials had told him they did not know when the ruling would be implemented.
Administration clerk Chong Kwai Fang, 33, was seen struggling with four young children and a maid and said she had been caught unawares that the decision to reintroduce the card had been implemented.
"I do not mind filling up the form, but it would have been easier if we did it at home before leaving instead of here," she said.
Michal Chawrylo, 24, from Poland said he did not mind filling up the form as it was something that he did upon entering most countries.
"I expected this as it is the same as when I entered Singapore. The form is simple enough," he said.
Touts also started cashing in and were seen doing brisk business as people queued up to have their cards filled for RM2 per card.
One woman, when asked why she did not do it herself, said she was "not clever" to do so.
Johor Immigration Department deputy director Johari Yusof said officials had begun distributing the cards at the Causeway and Second Link checkpoints from 2pm on Thursday.
"We started implementing the system around midnight on Friday when the decision came into effect. Everything went smoothly," he said, adding that they were still using the old cards as they had yet to receive the new ones.
The embarkation card was reintroduced yesterday after about eight months when foreigners did not have to fill the cards to enter the country.