Illegal water taxi operator jailed for negligence

Fadley Faisal

The Magistrate’s Court yesterday sentenced a Malaysian man to six months’ jail after he pleaded guilty to a charge of endangering others by negligence in the navigation of a vessel.

Asri bin Taram, 34, pleaded guilty to the offence under Section 280 of the Penal Code, Chapter 22, navigating a vessel in a manner negligent so as to endanger human life, or likely to cause hurt or injury to any person.

Chief Magistrate Pengiran Masni binti Pengiran Haji Bahar, on handing sentence, stated in her judgment that a deterrent sentence must be imposed in order to send a message that all boat operators abide by law and regulation to ensure safety of boat operators and their passengers. The court also ordered for the defendant’s boat and engine to be forfeited to the state.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Dr Mohammad Hussin Ali bin Idris informed the court that at noon on December 25, 2019, the defendant was operating a small water taxi without a licence and offered his services to seven tourists at Sungai Lampai Jetty, knowing that his water taxi could not safely accommodate all passengers and failed to provide lifejackets to the tourists.

After the passengers boarded, the water taxi became overloaded and unstable causing it to sink as it departed the jetty.

Some of the passengers managed to jump back on to the jetty while other passengers had to swim back to the jetty.

The case was jointly investigated by the Royal Brunei Police Force and the Maritime and Port Authority of Brunei Darussalam (MPABD).

Vessel operators have been reminded to observe all legal requirements to navigate within the waters of Brunei Darussalam including registering their vessels with MPABD and to obtain necessary licences. The maximum penalty for violating section 280 of the Penal Code, Chapter 22 is imprisonment of five years and a fine of BND10,000.