KOTA KINABALU: A special operation by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) in the waters off Kota Belud netted six passenger boats for various offences including overloading.
The MMEA Kota Kinabalu director First Admiral Adam Aziz said three of the passenger boats carried more than the permitted number of passengers under their licences, while the skippers of the other three boats were unlicensed.
The boats were escorted back to the Usukan Bay jetty where further investigations were carried out.
Action was taken against the skippers and owners under the Sabah Harbour and Ports Enactment.
The special operation was carried out to ensure that boat operators comply with various requirements especially during the current holiday season when a large number of tourists head towards Pulau Mantanani off the west coast of Sabah.
On the first day of Chinese New Year last year, a catamaran capsized while on route to Pulau Mengalum located 56km northwest of the state capital.
The catamaran was carrying 31 people comprising 28 Chinese tourists and three crewmen.
Four of the Chinese tourists died, five other people are still missing, while the others were rescued.
First Admiral Adam said the special operation for the Chinese New Year involved six officers and 10 MMEA personnel.
He said some irresponsible boat operators were out to make a quick profit by ferrying more passengers than allowed.
“It looks like some of the boat operators have not learned from last year’s tragedy,” he said.
He added that ongoing operations are being carried out in various areas off the west coast of Sabah.