DANGEROUS: Those travelling between Tanjung Dawai and Pantai Merdeka risk their lives daily:-
ALOR STAR: JAMALUDIN Hashim who plies his boat between Tanjung Dawai and Pantai Merdeka, here, daily says the majority of his passengers do not wear life jackets.
Despite repeated reminders, he said the villagers were ignoring the ruling which required boat passengers to put on life jackets.
Most of them merely place their life jackets on their laps or on the seat.
“My regular clients are largely ignoring the ruling. They are a stubborn lot,” he said.
“I know we have never had accidents but there is a strict ruling requiring passengers of boats to wear life jackets.”
Jamaludin said he was aware that he could get into trouble with the authorities because of this.
“So far, I have been lucky and my passengers, too, have been lucky,” said Jamaludin
“I am just at my wits’ end and don’t know how to make them put on life jackets.”
To minimise untoward incidents, Jamaludin, who is a committee member of the Pantai Merdeka and Tanjung Dawai Passenger Boat Operators’ Association, said he made it a point to handle his boat properly and strictly observe all maritime laws.
The association has 10 vessels operating as water taxis for residents on both sides of the cape.
One of Jamaludin’s regular clients, Mohd Desa Saad, 72, said most of the errant passengers were housewives and schoolchildren.
He said their excuse was it only took about five minutes to cross to the other side.
“They also say the jackets are uncomfortable to wear,” he added.
He said some children would put on life jackets since many of them could not swim.
“Not everybody can swim, especially the women and kids.
“They must take seriously the requirement to wear life jackets to avoid untoward incidents.”
Northern Region Marine Department director Abdul Aziz Muhamud said boat operators must be firm on the life jacket ruling to ensure the safety of their passengers.
“We will monitor the situation,” he said.