New border-crossing system is put to test

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 November, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 November, 2004, 12:00am

Three card machines are expected at Lowu by end of year

Permanent residents with smart identity cards can now do a trial run of the automated immigration clearance system.

Three card-reading machines are expected to be installed at the Lowu checkpoint by the end of this year, Assistant Director of Immigration Raymond Wong Wai-man said yesterday.

About 270 channels for the system are planned to be fully operational at eight immigration checkpoints in early 2006.

It is expected that up to 1,000 travellers a minute will be able to complete clearance at Lowu after the system is installed.

'I hope the public will be more familiar with the use of smart identity cards when crossing the border,' he said. 'Also, I feel the public should give comments after they try the new facility.'

The trial system is available from today at Wan Chai Immigration Tower and the Hong Kong smart identity card centre in Causeway Bay, and from Thursday at the East Kowloon and Tsuen Wan smart identity card centres. Immigration staff will be stationed to guide the public.

Passengers who cross the border have to insert their identity cards, followed by a fingerprint scan.

Mr Wong said the new clearance procedure would be completed in nine seconds, compared with the average 13 seconds now.

Two old counters will be replaced by three smart card channels at the checkpoints and the flow rate is expected to increase by 50 per cent.

'We have strict demands on the system,' Mr Wong said. Safety and hygiene were concerns during the testing period. A hand drier blows dust and sweat off the fingerprint scan and ultraviolet light kills bacteria.