Auto-channel opened at Nong Khai immigration checkpoint

Auto-channel opened at Nong Khai immigration checkpoint

NONG KHAI -- The immigration office at the Thai-Lao Friendship bridge in this northeastern border province on Sunday held an opening ceremony for a new automated passport-screening gate, or auto-channel, intended to boost security and speed up the immigration process for Thai passport holders.

The ceremony was led by Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn Prousoontorn, the Thai Immigration Police Bureau chief, and attended by Lao counterpart Lt Col Saysaming Sivilai and other officials.

Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn said that the Nong Khai border crossing has been selected to be the first of the country's land checkpoints for the installation of the auto-channel, because the daily average number of people passing through it for for immigration processing is 15,000.

The auto-channel is designed to speed up the immigration process, and is part of the government's Thailand 4.0 programme, he said. The system has been used on more than 20 million air passengers at Suvarnabhumi airport, and has proved highly effective at solving the problem of travellers using fake passports.

The automated passport-screening system is connected to a database of criminals, explained Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn.  It can detect people wanted under arrest warrants, those using fake passports or passports belonging to others, and those declared persona non-grata. 

Plans call for the system to be installed at other checkpoints such as Songkhla, Sa Kaeo's Aranyaprathet and Tak's Mae Sot, he said.

In the initial stage, the system will be used with Thai passport holders only.

Lt Col Saysaming, the Lao immigration bureau chief, said Thai and Lao immigration officials have been working together closely as the two countries share many immigration checkpoints.

Since the launch of the Asean Economic Community, he added, many people have travelled to Laos via Thailand, making it necessary for the neighbouring countries to forge closer security ties to screen out unwanted persons.

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