Sabah boat sinking: Boat operator uses illegal village jetty for marine tourism

The catamaran that was used to ferry the Chinese tourists to Pulau Mengalum.
The catamaran that was used to ferry the Chinese tourists to Pulau Mengalum. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The tour company that owned the catamaran which sank on the way to Pulau Mengalum on Saturday (Jan 28) had illegally used the Kampung Tanjung Aru jetty to transport tourists.

State Tourism, Culture and Tourism Assistant Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Min said tour firms were not supposed to use the jetty for marine tourism purposes.

"They are supposed to use the Jesselton Point jetties or the jetties at Sutera Harbour and ShangriLa Tanjung Aru Resort," he said.

He said the illegal use of a village jetty by the company would be referred to City Hall as well as the Ports and Harbour Department.

Mr Pang said tour companies were required to use designated jetties where they would be required to submit a list with the identities of passengers and the total number they were transporting.

 

"When using a non-designated jetty, they can do anything they want," he added.

Following the boat mishap, Mr Pang said an overhaul of Sabah's marine tourism industry was being undertaken by a committee comprising various authorities and industry representatives.

"We will identify the weaknesses in the marine tourism industry and make recommendations in a report to the Chief Minister," he added.

The catamaran with 30 people on board - comprising 27 Chinese nationals and three crew members - sank at about 10am on the first day of Chinese New Year after departing the Tanjung Aru jetty an hour earlier.

The search effort began immediately after the company operating the vessel reported the mishap to the authorities 12 hours after the incident.

Most were rescued on Sunday afternoon. Twenty of the Chinese nationals survived their 32-hour ordeal at sea, while three died.

An intensive search is still going on for four Chinese tourists and a crewmember.