KUCHING: Ferry users in Sarawak welcome stricter enforcement of safety regulations following Friday's tragedy at the Triso ferry point that claimed nine lives.
At the Rambungan ferry point in the Lundu district, about 36km from here, Shukri Keram said it was safer for passengers to get out from their vehicles and board the ferry on foot as stipulated by the regulations.
"I think it is high time for the people to observe the necessary safety measures at ferry points.
"Safety should be the top priority to prevent any untoward incident," he said when met Monday (Jan 4).
Shukri said ferry users had been lax in complying with the regulations.
"The regulations are there but most do not follow them. It is only when a tragedy occurrs that the people will start to follow," he said.
On Saturday (Jan 2), Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing instructed ferry operators to strictly enforce the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for boarding and disembarking ferries.
According to the SOPs, all passengers except the driver must get off from the car before it is driven onto the ferry and only get back inside after it has exited the ferry.
Masing said guardrails would be installed at ferry crossing points to prevent a recurrence of the incident on New Year's Day, when a four-wheel-drive vehicle plunged into the Batang Lupar river, killing all nine people on board, including a four-month-old baby.
Noodle seller Syed Mutakim Wan Soleh, who uses the Rambungan ferry daily to go to Lundu where he works, said he felt nervous about boarding the ferry after the incident.
"I think the SOPs for passengers to alight from the vehicle is safer," he said.
Army personnel Azizi Razif, who was bringing his family to Lundu for a holiday, said he was concerned about his young children boarding the ferry on foot as guardrails had yet to be installed along the ramp.
"I'm aware of the SOPs but my children are afraid to walk on the ramp," he said, adding that it was his first time using the Rambungan ferry.