KOTA KINABALU: After a tragedy that left three dead, six missing and 20 suffering a 30-hour ordeal at sea, it is now surfacing that tour companies are flouting the rules by using a jetty that has been deemed illegal for marine tourism purposes.
And this is going on even after the tragedy.
At least three speedboats packed with tourists were seen arriving at the Kampung Tanjung Aru Baru jetty at about 3.30pm yesterday. It is one of two jetties in Tanjung Aru which are not supposed to be used.
Villager Din Said said boats departing and arriving at the jetty were usually those meant for trips to Pulau Mengalum, Pulau Tiga and the nearby Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park.
He said the other jetty at Kampung Tanjung Aru Lama has been quiet since the catamaran tragedy on the first day of Chinese New Year.
State Tourism, Culture and Tourism Assistant Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Min said tour firms were not supposed to use either of the jetties for marine tourism.
“They should use the Jesselton Point jetties or the jetties at Sutera Harbour and Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort,” he said.
He said the illegal use of the village jetty would be referred to City Hall as well as the Ports and Harbour Department.
At the designated jetties, tour companies have to must submit lists of the identity and number of passengers.
“When they use a non-designated jetty, they do anything they want,” he added.
The problem was evident in the latest case when a man was listed as missing although he and his wife had not boarded at all while another tourist had boarded without being on the passenger manifest.
Pang said an overhaul of Sabah's marine tourism industry was underway with a committee comprising representatives from the industry and various authorities.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said the authorities must be stricter in enforcing regulations on boat operators carrying passengers including tourists.
These operators, he said, should equip their boats with the necessary equipment such as GPS tracking system and radio communication devices besides mandatory life jackets for every person on board.
"My deepest condolences to the families of the victims who perished in this most tragic incident," he said in a statement yesterday.
He said the authorities were mobilising resources for the search for those still missing.
"I expect a thorough investigation into this mishap. We must do our utmost to prevent such incidents from happening," he said.
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