WE thank the writer of the letter published in January 31, 2015 edition of the Borneo Bulletin Opinion Page titled, “Boats without life jackets common sight in Kg Ayer”.
We welcome and appreciate his/her comments and observations and also commend the publication of the letter which has raised awareness on the importance of life-saving equipment such as life jackets for safer water travel in this country.
The incident referred to in the letter is very much regretted, especially since it caused the loss of life through the tragic circumstances surrounding it. From time to time, through the Marine Department, Ministry of Communications, we have continuously reminded all water transport users including boat and vessel owners, operators, drivers and passengers on the crucial importance of wearing life jackets when travelling via water transport.
Even though by law, the wearing of life jackets is not mandatory yet, there are regulations stating that the provision and availability of life jackets are required to be met by all owners and operators, including making available special life jackets for children and larger-sized adults.
We have also constantly issued reminders via press statements and Shipping Notices. We are also stepping up efforts to do more maritime safety awareness programmes and campaigns including briefings during road shows to inculcate the culture of wearing life jackets, not just to be limited to passengers but also the drivers of the boats and vessels.
Personnel from the Marine Department also conduct regular scheduled and unscheduled inspections through joint operations with enforcement agencies and during renewal of licences as well as during the conduct of “Class 9 (Restricted) Training”.
As one of our initiatives in promoting and inculcating maritime and waterway safety, the Marine Department continues to conduct “Class 9 (Restricted) Training” for outboard engine drivers in which all safety requirements of Merchant Regulations are highlighted. In this Class 9 training, all waterway operators are made aware of the critical requirement to wear life jackets at all times when on their boats, and they are also trained on the dangers of fishing nets and other waterway obstructions as well as the importance of navigational aids.
We strive to improve marine enforcement as well as maritime safety awareness campaigns and are currently reviewing all existing and relevant legislations.
With respect to the wearing of life jackets specifically, we are giving serious consideration to tackle this issue through a new regulation which will make it mandatory for passengers and especially drivers to wear life jackets at all times while on board water transportation.
Lastly, we appeal to all users and members of the public to continue observing and adopting safety at all times, and to always choose safety over convenience as safety of life is a responsibility of all concerned.
In our efforts to make water travel safer and more convenient, we encourage members of the public to forward comments and information they wish to share to e-mail address email@example.com or to call 2771347 in our continued efforts to further improve services for all.
– Haji Matnor bin Haji Salleh
Director of Marine
Ministry of Communications