MIRI: Local native villagers in interior Sarawak have expressed worries that foreigners, such as Indonesian workers in timber camps and plantations, are being allowed to be drivers of land vehicles and boats in the deep interior pockets of this state even though they are not qualified to do so.
Berawan Association of Long Terawan settlement secretary Willie Kajan said these foreigners, who had no local driving licences, should not be given the freedom to drive around the rural roads or operate boats in the rivers as they could be reckless and posed safety risks to the local people.
Kajan expressed this worry to Sarawak Metro yesterday following last week’s fatal boat incident between a longboat and a timber boat in Sungai Tutoh that killed three people.
During last Sunday’s tragedy, there were nine local natives on board the longboat that was heading from Long Terawan to SK Long Panai.
During the incident, one was injured wile five other were rescued by people living along the river banks.
The driver of the timber boat was an Indonesian. Those on board the longboat were all local natives.
The deceased were all related – Marie Lawing, 38, Celine Adries, a 12-year-old Primary Six girl and Ethaniel Adries, an 11-year-old Primary Five boy, the brother of Celine.
The boy had been missing for two days. But his body was recovered from the river on Thursday.
The bodies of Lawing and Celine were recovered from the river about 4pm on Sunday shortly after the incident.
Lawing was the aunty of Celine and Ethaniel and she was sending them to the school for the start of the school year when the boat they were in collided with the timber vessel between 2pm and 3pmnear a timber camp along the Sungai Tutoh between Long Terawan and Long Panai.
The injured passenger, Margaret Dau, 36, was sent to a government clinic near the Mulu National Park and later transferred by helicopter to the Miri Hospital where she is still being warded.
The site of the incident was about seven hours from the nearest urban centre of Marudi town.
Immediately after the collision, the Indonesian operating the timber boat and a fellow worker who was with him, escaped from the scene.
Two days later, the driver surrendered himself at the Long Lama police station.
Kajan sais yesterday that the Indon might not have a licence to operate a river vessel.
“The authorities should investigate such incidents thoroughly. There are so many foreign workers working in the timber and oil palm plantation sectors throughout the interior districts.
“They are often seen driving along the rural roads and handling vessels along the river routes.
“How qualified are they to handle such transportations? Foreigners should not be allowed to do that,” he stressed.
Dennis Ngau, State Assemblyman for Telang Usan, confirmed that the Indonesian timber boat driver had been placed him under remand and and might be charged in court soon.
The three killed in the incident were buried last Thursday in Long Terawan.