Sandakan boats collision: MP calls for maritime SOP review
Published on: Friday, February 14, 2020
By: Mardinah Jikur
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SANDAKAN: A General Operations Force (GOF) personnel has been reported missing following a collision between a passenger boat and another boat in the waters near the Central Market, here, Thursday morning.

Lieutenant Commander Mohd Hafidz Mohd Tajuddin, spokesman for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Sandakan Zone, said Asman Ongkal, 40, who was also in the passenger boat with his family, disappeared about 5am while trying to rescue passengers from the boat which had capsized.

“The passenger boat carrying 37 people, including the skipper, was heading towards the Central Market from Pulau Tanjung Aru, about 2.3 nautical miles from here, when it collided with the other boat that was towing a smaller boat.

“Fifteen people have been sent to the Duchess of Kent Hospital, of which three, including the 30-year-old skipper, are in critical condition,” he told reporters when met at the market jetty.

Mohd Hafidz said a search and rescue operation covering an area of two nautical miles involving some 30 boats was being carried out by agencies such as the Royal Malaysia Police, the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department, and the Civil Defence Force.

Sandakan District Police Chief ACP Mohd Azhar Hamin said the 36 passengers rescued by civilians comprised 28 secondary and primary school students, as well as eight adults.

He said the cause of the incident was still under investigation.

Meanwhile, Democratic Action Party (DAP)’s Sandakan Member of Parliament, Vivian Wong, said there is an urgent need to review the current Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) of all boats and ferries operating in Sandakan waters. 

“We have many schoolchildren travelling to mainland Sandakan to attend classes every day via boats and ferries, and their safety is of utmost importance. 

“Thus, it is imperative that the relevant authorities conduct an urgent review on the safety of operation of all boats and ferries to ensure accidents will not recur,” she said. 

Vivian, after visiting the injured passengers and their families at the Duchess of Kent Hospital here, went to the Sandakan jetty to monitor the search and rescue operation. 

“While current focus is on the search and rescue mission to locate the missing passenger and also to ensure all injured passengers are taken care of, I urge the relevant authorities to carry out a thorough investigation swiftly. Subsequently, the findings should be incorporated into the SOP to enhance the safety of all sea vessels operating in our waters,” she said.

“During this period, the parliamentary office will be collaborating closely with all relevant agencies such as the police hospital, Maritime and Welfare Department to provide the necessary support to all affected passengers and their families.” 

Vivian, who was saddened by the incident, will also lead a team to visit Kampung Tanjung Aru today (Friday) to have a dialogue with villagers on various issues, especially on the aspect on water transport services. 



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