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Tuesday, 13 February 2018 | MYT 12:00 AM

Passenger safety a top priority

SIBU: The Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB) aims for an incident-free Chinese New Year celebration with the launch of the state-level riverine enforcement operation.

SRB’s chairman Dr Murni Suhaili said the operation was divided into two phases - from Feb 12 to 15 and Feb 23 to 25.

During these periods, the number of express boat passengers would be high, especially those travelling home for the celebration.

“We don’t want accidents to occur on our rivers. We are expecting a surge in the number of commuters during this period for the Sibu-Kapit and Kapit-Balleh/Putai sectors,” he said.

Dr Murni wanted juragan (skippers) of commercial, cargo, express and speedboats to reduce their speed limit when there were smaller boats around.

“To the operators of passenger boats such as express boats and commercial speedboats, I advise you to always make the safety of your passengers the top priority by ensuring that you do not carry excess loads other than what is permitted,” he said.

Enforcement officers will be going on their rounds as the number of commuters travelling by boat is set to increase.
Enforcement officers will be going on their rounds as the number of commuters travelling by boat is set to increase.

The operations also involve Sarawak Marine Department, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, police, People’s Voluntary Corps (Rela), Civil Defence Department and Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry.

Between five and six patrol boats would be used for the operations along the Rajang River.

“Our main focus this time is on passenger boats which are registered and have operating permits from SRB such as express boats and speedboats as well as privately-owned vessels,” said Dr Murni.

He added that the objective of the operation included preventing boats from carrying excess passengers, ensuring that life jackets are available to all on board, enforcing the ‘No Ticket,No Entry’ policy, ensuring that the names of everyone on the vessel are recorded and that operators follow the approved fare structure.

Dr Murni said operators would not be allowed to use additional boats during this period unless they have an extra permit from SRB.

He said the they would not hesitate to take action against errant operators if they were caught breaking the law, including fines and jail time.

Accompanying Dr Murni was SRB’s new controller, Richard Tajan.