: A maritime tragedy involving a passenger boat or ferry can occur at any time, but it can be prevented if the passengers involved know what safety measures should be taken before or during the mishap.
In fact, according to Malaysian Marine Department director Datuk Baharin Abdul Hamid, the passengers had every right to know whether or not the boat or ferry they were boarding was safe to set sail to its destination.
"One of the important safety measures to be taken by passengers is to use the safety jacket as it is a standard procedure, just like using safety belt while onboard a car or an aircraft.
"Besides, it is also compulsory for the boat or ferry operator to get insurance coverage for their passengers during the trip," he told Bernama at his office here.
He said according to the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952 (Amendment) 2014, all boats ferrying passengers and tourists were required to get passengers' insurance coverage.
Baharin said only boats with passengers' insurance coverage could obtain the operation permit or licence with a load capacity limit of 12 passengers per boat.
"Prior to the issuance of each operation permit or licence, the boat will also have to undergo inspection to ensure that it is equipped with safety equipment and safe for operation," he said.
Besides, he said each boat operator must also pass the mate domestic course to obtain the licence to operate passenger boats.
He said the Marine Department was currently monitoring approximately 4,200 passenger boats licenced under the department to ensure that they adhered to all the safety regulations and standard operating procedures.
Baharin also said that the Marine Department had also compelled all passenger boats to operate and use jetties gazetted by the government.
"Passenger boat terminal and jetties in Sabah, however, are under the administration of the Sabah Ports and Harbours Department, while those in Sarawak are under the Sarawak Rivers' Board," he said.
Yesterday, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said enforcement on boat and ferry operations should be tightened to prevent the tragedy of the capsized catamaran in Sabah waters on Saturday from recurring.
The catamaran carrying three crew and 28 tourists from China capsized due to strong winds and huge waves while travelling to Pulau Mengalum, about 56 kilometres northwest of Kota Kinabalu.
So far, 25 victims have been accounted for, including three who died, while six people are still missing. - BERNAMA