Express boat operators, passengers face action for SOP violation

By Chew Lip Song

THE authorities will not hesitate to suspend the operations of express boat service if the operators fail to abide by Covid-19 standard operating procedure (SOP), Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing warned.

The Sarawak Minister for Infrastructure and Port Development also expressed concern over over-crowding and failure to comply with the SOP following the recent circulation of a viral video showing passengers alighting from an express boat at Kapit Wharf not following health and safety protocols.

“The relevant ministry and agencies must take action against express boat operators including the passengers for defying the rulings of the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee especially during the spike of Covid-19 pandemic in Kapit,” Masing said in a statement.

“If this defiance persists, the relevant ministry must put a stop to all express boats plying our rivers during the spike of Covid-19! Its better be safe than sorry later.”

The video which has gone viral

Meanwhile, the Sarawak River Board said that initial investigations showed that the overcrowding was due to two boats arriving at the same time at the Kapit Express Boat Terminal, Borneo Post reported.

“This scenario happened when the two express boats berthed alongside our Passenger Terminal at Kapit.

“Two express boats arrived in Kapit from Putai and the video that went viral was when the passengers disembarked from the express boats and were in the process of getting their belongings on top of the boats. There was no overloading,” said Sarawak River Board Sibu assistant controller (Region II) Hatta Morshidi.