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By Wendy John
SIBU, Jan 14: Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin has reminded express boat operators and passengers to keep safety in mind following the guidelines and regulations set by the Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB).
He said it was important for express boat operators and passengers to adhere to standard operating procedure (SOP) to prevent any unwanted incidents.
According to him, studies have shown that most accidents occur as a result of human negligence.
“We would like to remind passengers who return to the village during the Chinese New Year celebration to comply with all safety regulations while on the boat.
“If all passengers including express boat operators are in compliance with the rules set out on the jetty and on board the passenger boat, I believe all forms of accidents could be avoided.
“It’s not like only when we see the enforcement officer inspecting then we put on our safety jackets. If you don’t want to keep yourself safe, who else can take responsibility for your safety?” he pointed out.
Lee said this at the launch of the River Transport Safety Campaign in conjunction with the Chinese New Year Celebration at the Sibu Express Boat Passenger Terminal today.
In this regard, he praised the initiative undertaken by SRB through the safety campaign which inculcated awareness and provided information to the public on the importance of taking safety precautions when using river transport.
“The river authority has officers at each express boat passenger terminal, where these officers will be available to assist and serve the community and express boat operators to ensure efficient and safe operation of river transport,” he said.
As a state with rich and long river basins, Lee said the river transport system is still important and relevant in Sarawak, especially for rural and coastal areas.
“To date, there have been 35 gazetted rivers covering approximately 5,000 kilometres in length.
“Undoubtedly, river transport is also the preferred mode of transport for moving commodities and raw cargo from the interior to the nearest city for shipment to industrial plants or export,” he said.
He added that through SRB, 94 wharfs and jetties were gazetted, all of which were under its supervision and maintenance.
In addition, a total of 208 units of Navigational Aids were installed in the river for the purpose of assisting the river travel safety, he added.
Therefore, in the pursuit of developing a good, efficient and safe transport system, the ministry is always open to suggestions and ideas that can positively impact the transport sector.
“Several meetings with stakeholders and the business community, will be a priority in the near future to get feedback on the development of current issues related to transportation.
“The ministry will continue to hold meetings and dialogues with interested communities for feedback and information as the ministry seeks to develop measures and strategies to develop the state’s transport sector,” Lee said. — DayakDaily