| Achong Tanjong |
INDIVIDUALS using water transportation such as speedboats, water taxis and other passenger boats as well as their operators should always wear lifejackets during their journeys for their own safety, especially during the upcoming festive Hari Raya period.
Relaying this reminder yesterday was a marine engineer officer and Head of the Enforcement and Investigation Division of the Maritime and Ports Authority of Brunei Darussalam (PBMP) Haji Yusoff bin Haji Metusin.
Haji Yusoff, who was speaking to the media during the Aewon Garment and Embroidery lifejacket safety campaign at the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Complex Jetty in the capital yesterday, added, “The use of safety jackets is a must and should be part of our culture when using water transportation, much the same as fastening car safety belts. This is because in most water transport accidents in Brunei, passengers have been found to be not wearing lifejackets.”
The campaign, part of Aewon’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme, also featured a sale of the company’s lifejackets at promotional prices. This is to encourage boat owners and operators to stock up on the lifejackets to ensure the safety of all their passengers.
“With the Hari Raya celebrations just around the corner, we want all Bruneians to travel safe and not wish to see mishaps, injuries or loss of life happening during this period,” Haji Yusoff said. “The number of people using passenger boats during the celebrations will increase; no doubt there will be significant numbers of Bruneians visiting relatives in Kampong Ayer.
“It’s important to exercise extra caution during this time. This period usually is a very busy time for speedboat operator services from Bandar Seri Begawan to Temburong and vice versa, and there will also be a rise in tourists using tourist boats.”
A standalone advisory from the PBMP additionally called for water taxi operators to always comply with the water traffic rules and slow their boats down when passing through residential and narrow channel areas such as Kampong Ayer or construction zones, particularly during inclement weather.
Boat drivers are also urged to not overload their boats, which could pose serious safety risks to themselves and their passengers. They have additionally been instructed to ensure that their boats have sufficient lifejackets for all their passengers, as well as turn on navigation lights when operating the boats at night.
Commenting on the lifejacket safety campaign, Haji Yusoff said, “From January to May 2018, the Enforcement Division of the PBMP has carried out six awareness campaigns on lifejacket use, inspections on 39 boats and two lifejacket usage monitoring operations, as well as one public briefing and one meeting with passenger boat operators.”
The overall awareness on the importance of lifejacket use, he added, “is still very low especially among boat operators and passengers in a normal day”, stressing that it is “the responsibility of all in the country to bring about a culture of wearing lifejackets when travelling on water”.
The lifejacket campaign is scheduled to take place next in Temburong at the Bangar Jetty.