| Azlan Othman |
WATER taxi operators in Kg Ayer yesterday came under the watchful eye of enforcement officials, who ran checks to ensure these operators were registered and had the necessary licences in place.
Forty personnel from the Marine Department, Marine Police and Kg Ayer Police were involved in the operation, which came hot on the heels of last week’s Brunei River boat collision, which resulted in the drowning of a 17-year-old boy.
Fifteen boat operators were checked and subsequently taken to the Kg Ayer Police Station, where they were given a verbal warning and instructed to report to the Marine Department for registration.
The two-hour operation left many Kg Ayer residents fuming as they had to endure a longer wait for water taxis. Only a few operators were visible at the wharf near Yayasan, with others opting to distance themselves in hopes of avoiding inspection. A mother of two complained that this had resulted in her being late for her child’s appointment at the Sg Asam Health Centre.
Enforcement officers pointed out that only a few water taxi operators were registered, saying, “Out of 200, only 20 are registered. Others cite financial constraints in paying the insurance premium.”
The Marine Department was led by Hj Yussof bin Metussin, the Marine Police was led by Insp Ismail bin Ibrahim and Insp Siti Hasinah binti Hassan led the team from the Kg Ayer Police Station.
The Marine Department will continue to ensure water transportation and its operations are safe for public use. The same applies to the elongated boats used to ferry school children, which should be efficient and proper.
The boat operators have been reminded to be more responsible and to take seriously the safety aspects of the passengers they ferry. The department also stressed on the importance of providing safety gears (such as safety jackets, fire extinguishers, peddle and navigation light) when operating at night, as stipulated in the Merchant Shipping Safety Regulations.
Members of the public who make use of water taxi services are urged to wear safety jackets when in a boat. Precautionary measures should be taken onboard the water taxi and boat owners are advised to place the life jackets in an easily accessible area.
A reminder was put out that speedboats ferrying passengers from BSB-Temburong-BSB are allowed to carry only 12 passengers at most per trip, while the average number of passengers for water taxis is six to eight.
The Marine Department will take action on operators who carry an overload of passengers. In the aspect of safety, a standard has to be followed – the number of jackets should exceed the number of passengers, and additional jackets for oversized adults and children should also be provided.
The public should only make use of water taxi operators with a valid licence and registered with the Marine Department. Boat operators must also have the Class 9 Skills (limited) Certificate issued by the Marine Department.