Inter-district travel banned in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Roadblocks are already up in all district borders in Sabah following the announcement of the ban on inter-district movements starting tomorrow.

The announcement was made by Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday, where he added cross-district movements will be restricted until Oct 16.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hazani Ghazali said all district police stations have been notified of the ban, which exempts those who are in essential services.

“We will also get help from other security forces such as the armed forces, ” he said when contacted.

Hazani said those living and working in separate districts, for example, people who live in Penampang but work in Kota Kinabalu, have to show proof of their work and home address to pass the roadblocks.

“Those working must have letters from their employers, ” he said, adding that while the announcement appears to be rushed, the police is already prepared to act accordingly.

“We have gone through this in the first movement control order (MCO), that’s why we are prepared, ” he said, while maintaining that the inter-district travel ban is neither an MCO nor a lockdown.

Although travel between districts is banned, all businesses and offices are allowed to operate as usual as long as it does not require travels out of the districts.

Under the targeted enhanced MCO, residents will not be allowed to exit these districts and all businesses – except for essential services – were halted.

Meanwhile, the dusk to dawn (6pm to 6am) sea curfew in Sabah’s east coasts which ended yesterday has been extended for another two weeks until Oct 17.

Hazani said the extension of the curfew was needed due to continuous threats from cross-border criminals, including from kidnap-for-ransom groups.

The curfew covers areas up to three nautical miles off Tawau, Semporna, Kunak, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan, Sandakan and Beluran.

He said according to intelligence, kidnap-for-ransom groups and Abu Sayyaf militants are still trying to commit cross-border crimes.

“We also want to ensure the safety of the people of Sabah who use the waters and are staying near the Eastern Sabah Security Zone, ” Hazani said.

He added that the curfew was to facilitate the enforcement and monitoring of marine activities in the area, as well as provide a sense of security and comfort for nearby chalet owners and fishermen through the visible presence of security forces.

“I have also given the authority to all district police chiefs to issue permits to eligible applicants who fit the criteria to conduct fishery activities in the areas affected by the curfew, ” he said.

The curfew was first implemented on 19 July 2014 following a spate of kidnappings linked to the Abu Sayyaf which saw the beheading of Sarawakian Bernard Then and the killing of several others, including a policeman and tourists.

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