RANTAU PANJANG: The presence of more than 100 illegal jetties along the 121km Malaysia-Thailand border in Kelantan have made it easy for smugglers to sneak in diesel, drugs, firearms and worse, traffic in humans.
Security sources said the illegal jetties, which sprouted along Sungai Golok, were built more than 50 years ago.
“These illegal jetties have served as the ‘diplomatic bridge’ between people on both sides as many have blood ties on either side.
“Many have use the illegal jetties to bring in illegal items and are involved in human trafficking,” said a source here yesterday.
He said one of the reasons why thwarting illegal activities were difficult was due to the length of Sungai Golok, which is about 95km long.
“Sungai Golok is also narrow and at many locations along the snaking river, the banks on the opposite sides are mere metres apart,” he said.
A survey by the New Straits Times showed that a wire fence, built by the Malaysian and Thai authorities, around several illegal jetties a few months ago been removed.
This has caused smuggling activities, which stopped temporarily, to continue, especially at famous illegal jetties, namely Ibrahim Pencen, Azizah, Kasim and Jambu.
The activities would start as early as 7am and last until midnight.
Several men believed to be tentera semut, or ant soldiers, were seen carrying bags from a lorry to the riverbank. The goods were then delivered to the neighbouring area via a boat.
The smugglers were referred to as ant soldiers by locals as they were hired by smuggling syndicates, led by masterminds familiar with the surrounding area.
Meanwhile, villagers believed it would be difficult to stop the activities as they would only work when there were no enforcement officers around.
“We can only watch them (smugglers) work, but cannot do anything to stop them.
We are afraid as they are aggressive,” said a housewife from Rantau Panjang Lama, who refused to be named.
She said it would be good if the authorities could put up walls to stop smuggling activities and other cross-border crimes.
It was reported that the Home Ministry was planning to build a 121km border wall and fence along the Malaysia-Thai border in Sungai Golok and also gazette it as a security area to prevent cross-border crime.-nst