Concerns that smugglers and human traffickers may usher Covid-19 wave in Sarawak

Illegal Indonesians caught during a recent raid in a plantation in Miri. -Pic by security forces

MIRI: There are concerns that smugglers and human traffickers from Kalimantan in Indonesia may bring in more Covid-19 cases into Sarawak.

The State Disaster Relief Committee secretariat, in its latest update, said there are many illegal Indonesians who are freely coming in and out of Sarawak via “jalan tikus and jalan gajah” (see below) along the Kalimantan-Sarawak border.

These "jalan tikus" (small and hidden jungle trails) and "jalan gajah" (big pathways) are being used to bring in illegal Indonesian workers and even goods into Sarawak, it said.

“These smugglers and human traffickers are not just security threats but also pose a health risk as they could bring in more Covid-19 cases into the state.

"These jalan tikus and jalan gajah need to be given urgent attention by our security forces, ” the secretariat said.

Over the weekend (Oct 17-18), police, army, Immigration and General Operation Force teams carried out checks throughout Sarawak to locate such illegal immigrants.

“The checks were carried out at plantations, construction sites, industrial sites and business premises state-wide.

“So far, 187 illegals have been arrested, ” the secretariat said.

There have been nine smuggling cases detected over the past few months and some RM12.6 mil worth of goods have been confiscated from these smugglers, it added.

The security forces and the immigration teams are intensifying their operations to weed out these illegal Indonesians, it added, as well as identifying and plugging their routes.

The main entry points at the Sarawak-Kalimantan border are at the Immigration checkpoints at Tebedu and Serikin in southern Sarawak and Bakelalan in northern Sarawak.

However, there are many illegal entry routes along the 1,000km-long porous mountainous border.

In terms of Covid-19, Sarawak has seen 19 deaths and about 760 infections so far.

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