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By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, Dec 6: A strict “no ticket, no entry” rule will be imposed on express boat passengers to curb overloading, amid the coming Christmas holidays and “balik sekolah” period for the new school year.
Sarawak Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin said the Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB) will carry out strict enforcement at river jetties and passenger terminals throughout the state, where there may be a surge in passenger load.
The first phase of enforcement runs from Dec 21 to 24 in conjunction with the Christmas celebration, while the second phase, from Dec 31 to Jan 1, 2020.
“The main objective of the operation is to target a ‘zero accident’. Apart from the ‘no ticket, no entry’ policy, other safety measures include ‘one person, one life jacket’ policy and registration of all passengers,” he said.
To ensure that express boat operators play their part in ensuring the safety of passengers, the operators must use Form 10P (Trip Application Extra), where every extra trip needed to be applied and make known to SRB.
“The SRB will mobilise 80 enforcement officers and 13 enforcement patrol boats throughout the operation with the assistance of approximately 30 enforcement officers and two boats from other relevant departments and enforcement agencies.
“This makes the total number of employees involved in this year’s enforcement operations a total of 110 officers and 15 enforcement patrol boats,” said Lee.
He expected that the Sibu-Song-Kapit sector and the Kapit-Balleh-Putai-Belaga sector in Batang Rajang will see an increase in the number of passengers and private boat movements for the community celebrating Christmas.
SRB took note that Sibu-Daro, Sibu-Igan, Sibu-Dalat, Sibu-Kuala Paloh, Sip-Tanjung Manis-Stalun-Belawai sectors will also experience increased passenger and private boat movements over the same period.
To ensure safety for these sector, the same precautions and enforcement measures will be taken, he added.
“For passenger boat operators, especially express boats and commercial speedboats, it is advisable to always prioritise passenger safety by ensuring that the boats operated do not carry loads beyond the prescribed limits, have valid River Transport Permit and charge such fares as may be approved by State Government of Sarawak,” Lee said.
For the high demand route of Sibu-Song-Kapit (go/return) during festive seasons, a total of 17 express boats are scheduled to operate daily with a carrying capacity of passengers, which means 3,746 passengers per day, he continued.
“SRB is ready to deal with the situation of increasing passengers and if additional boats are needed, SRB will give the boat operators immediate approval for applications for additional trips.
“Boat operators need to fill out Form 10P (Extra Trip Application Form) at the nearest SRB office.”
Lee reminded speed boat operators that these boats are only authorised to carry as many as 12 passengers at a time as specified in the licence and river transport permit.
At the same time, all passengers using these boat are required to wear safety jackets throughout the journey.
Legal action will be taken against uninsured passenger boat operators with a maximum fine of RM5,000 or two years’ imprisonment or both, upon conviction, he said. — DayakDaily