SINGAPORE: The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) building on Kallang Road was a hive of activity on Thursday (May 12) amid a rush for passports, with security guards “screening” visitors and directing them.
Among those who turned up was Mr Ad Maulod, who waited three hours before collecting his new passport, a day before he was due to travel to Malaysia.
"I have a backache now (from standing in line)," he said on the situation inside the building.
He leaves for a family trip to Kuala Lumpur on Friday, and it was the second time queuing up for his passport in as many days, said the 38-year-old research fellow.
On Wednesday, he waited four hours in the hope of having the process expedited.
He applied for a passport on Apr 2, but with an old photo. When it was rejected on Apr 22, he was told it would take another week for processing.
"One week later, nothing happened so I started panicking," he said. It would be his family's first trip together after a long time. He was glad the hours spent waiting paid off eventually.
There has been an “overwhelming demand” for passports since the easing of travel measures.
In response to CNA's queries, ICA said that the number of passport applications has "spiked" to more than 7,000 per day since Singapore eased travel restrictions.
At its peak, ICA received 14,000 applications in a day, it added. This is compared to about 2,000 applications per day pre-COVID.
Currently, the average waiting time for passport processing is at least six weeks from the time of application, a spokesperson added.
WAITING OUT OF DESPERATION
Those who spoke to CNA at ICA building on Thursday were aware of the situation but felt they had no choice but to go down.
“I was desperate,” said Mr Ad.
A senior administrative executive who wanted to be known only as Bhuvana was similarly in urgent need of a passport. She arrived at the ICA building after 8am, she said.
After waiting in a queue outside the building for about an hour, she waited another four hours on two different levels of the building before she was told she could collect her passport at 4pm the same day, she said.
Ms Bhuvana i...