Virus outbreak hits boat operators hard

Lyna Mohamad

The local water taxi industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak, particularly following the travel ban on foreign visitors, in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Haji Tarsat bin Haji Daud is one of the many boat operators left wondering how to make ends meet, after experiencing a significant drop in passengers and income.

“I have no choice, but to cease operations for the time being not only because of insufficient funds to pay my employees, but also for the purchase of fuel for the speedboats and so on,” he said.

Haji Tarsat also said that the situation became even more challenging with the opening of the Temburong Bridge. “Since then, no passengers have been using our speedboat services. This is understandable, as the bridge presents a better option in commuting between the two districts.” He and several boat operators highlighted their plight to the authorities, requesting for consideration.

“We have to pay our employees. My company itself has 13 local staff, some of whom I told to look for part-time work, to support their daily expenses,” he said.

ABOVE & BELOW: Empty seats at the jetty; and water taxis at Kampong Ayer. PHOTOS: MUIZ MATDANI