SEGAMAT: The District Office has ordered an immediate halt to sand mining near the spot where eight teenagers drowned in Sungai Muar near Buloh Kasap.
District officer Abdul Rahim Nin also ordered the company to promptly remove all their equipment from the area.
He said the sand mining activity there had resulted in the river being deepened and posed a danger to the residents in the vicinity.
“The District Drainage and Irrigation Department also told the company to repair the river bank, which had collapsed,” he told reporters at the scene of the tragic incident yesterday.
According to Abdul Rahim, who is also the District Security Committee chairman, 18 sand mining licences have been issued along Sungai Muar in the Segamat district with 10 of them still active, three pending extensions and five inactive.
District Land officer Muzaldin Mohamed said the mining company was issued the licence to operate along the river in 1989.
In a related development, the Johor Welfare Department will provide counselling to the families of the eight teenagers.
State executive committee for Women and Family Asiah Md Ariff said the families were going through a very emotional time and that the counselling sessions would help them ease their sorrow over the loss of their children.
“It is such a tragic way to lose their children. As a mother myself, I understand the pain and heartbreak that these families are going through,” she said.
State Education Department deputy director Hasidin Zaini said that the department would also help the families in getting the insurance payment for their children.
“Each student in Johor is covered by insurance of up to RM5,000 and we will assist the families in any way possible to get the payment,” he said.
The school attended by the teenagers, SMK Buloh Kasap, will also hold tahlil prayers and a donation drive for the victims’ families.
Meanwhile, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye has called on the Government to set up a National Water Safety Council.
He said the latest tragedy showed there is an urgent need for such a council to promote water safety among the public.
Lee said that the proposed council should have several aims, including the introduction of national water safety standards, encouraging swimming as a critical living skill and comprehensive education on water safety in schools.