Overladen boats a common sight
Published on: Friday, February 03, 2017
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Kota Kinabalu: It has become a norm for overladen tour boats to head out to especially Mengalum Island. This may have to do with the island having some recreational facilities on a piece of land belonging to the government by some "tour operators."

A landowner, Datuk Roland Ho, likened the availability of facilities, which were erected some four years ago, on a piece of land earmarked as "animal reserve" to it becoming like a marketplace on that part of the island.

"I have reported to the police thrice since 2013 and also the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, Environment Department, but no action was taken.

"I have done everything and since I'm part owner of the island, I also reported to the Veterinary Services and Animal Industry Department but still nothing happened," he said.

Ho decided to come forward to clear his company, Mengalum Tours and Dive Resort Sdn Bhd, of any allegations after being overwhelmed by calls that it was his resort the 28 Chinese tourists were heading to onboard the ill-fated catamaran on the first day of Chinese New Year.

He said his company engaged with four agents who dispatched his guests from the Sutera Harbour jetty, adding none of them had any part in the tragedy.

But, Ho said, there has been a sudden influx of visitors to the other side of the island since the structures were built by what he believed to be licensed tour operators over the last four years.

As a result his business dropped 50 per cent, he said, expressing disappointment that some of these operators were using photos of his resort to promote Mengalum Island to tourists.

"Since the operators have no permanent structures on the island they are running day-trip excursions and charge their customers cheap.

"To make up for the cost and profit they overload their boats, charging around RM100 to RM120 per person," said Ho, adding that the island has suddenly become 'macam pasar' (like market) and often filled with rubbish due to indiscriminate littering.


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