Water taxi operator to learn fate soon

Fadley Faisal

A 34-year-old Malaysian man is facing a penalty of five years imprisonment and a BND10,000 fine after he pleaded guilty in the Magistrate’s Court yesterday to a charge for an offence under Section 280 of the Penal Code, Chapter 22, for navigating a vessel in a manner negligent so as to endanger human life, or likely cause hurt or injury to any person.

Asri bin Taram also admitted to DPP Dr Mohammad Hussin Ali bin Idris’ facts of the case stating that the defendant was operating a small water taxi without a licence at noon on December 25, 2019.

He offered his services to seven tourists at Sungai Lampai Jetty, knowing that his water taxi could not safely accommodate all passengers. He also failed to provide lifejackets to the tourists.

After the passengers boarded, the overloaded water taxi became unstable and sunk as it departed the jetty. Some passengers jumped back onto the jetty, while the remaining passengers had to swim back to the jetty.

The incident, recorded on video by a member of the public, went viral on social media last year, prompting a joint investigation by the Royal Brunei Police Force and the Marine and Port Authority of Brunei Darussalam (MPABD).

Chief Magistrate Pengiran Masni binti Pengiran Haji Bahar is considering a fitting punishment for the defendant and will hand her sentence on April 29, 2020.

The court also ordered for the defendant to be remanded.

The Attorney General’s Chambers reminded vessel operators to observe legal requirements to navigate within the waters of Brunei Darussalam, including registering their vessels with MPABD and to obtain licences.