Mersing boat operators to undergo Covid-19, drug tests, say Johor police

MERSING: The authorities have launched an operation to conduct Covid-19 and drug tests on boat operators here.

Johor police chief Comm Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said that the joint operation between the police, the Health Department and Marine Department was to ensure that the public could visit the islands in Mersing safely.

"Since state borders have reopened, we expect to see many people visiting Mersing and using the boat services here. We need to ensure they can do so safely.

"We want to make sure that operators adhere to the rules and regulations outlined, especially when it comes to drug consumption, which could put the lives of passengers and other boat operators in danger," he said at a press conference that was posted on the Johor police Facebook page Thursday (Oct 14).

Comm Ayob noted that there are 45 islands in Mersing, five of which have resorts.

"There are 95 companies operating over 200 boats in Mersing alone.

"Operators found to not have their licence renewed in the past two years would have their licence suspended by the Marine Department," he said, adding that some 80 operators have so far registered to have the tests.

He also said that the authorities would be conducting regular checks at jetties in the district where boat operators found to have failed to take the tests would not be allowed to operate.

Last Thursday (Oct 7), Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar took to Facebook to express his disappointment over an incident where two men were found operating a boat while under the influence of drugs.

The Sultan said the incident, which took place near Pulau Rawa, Mersing on Wednesday (Oct 6), was an embarrassment to the state’s tourism industry.

“I am upset about the incident that happened right before my eyes. I saw them speeding and operating the boat in a reckless manner near the Pulau Rawa jetty.

“I ordered the police to stop the boat, which was carrying a family with young children taking part in island-hopping activities,” he said in a post on his official Facebook page.

Mersing OCPD Supt Cyril Edward Nuing said police pulled the 7.9m boat over at around 10am and ran a drug test on the boat skipper and helper.

Both tested positive for methamphetamine.
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