Ferry point SOPs to be enhanced, tightened

Ferry users complying with the ferry SOPs by walking to the ferry.

KUCHING: The standard operating procedures (SOPs) at the 12 ferry points in the state will be enhanced and tightened to ensure the safety of users.

Assistant Infrastructure and Port Development Minister Datuk Julaihi Narawi said it has been decided that with immediate effect an officer from the Public Works Department (PWD) will be stationed at each ferry point to monitor the operations.

“The existing SOPs are that all passengers must get out of their vehicles leaving only the drivers to get on board.

“This has been the way since the ferries began operating in Sarawak, and we want to tighten the rules and regulations,” he said during a press conference after chairing a meeting with Sarawak PWD, Sarawak RiverS Board and ferry operators throughout the state on the operating safety measures on Friday.

He said the SOPs, among other things, require passengers to be seated on one side of a ferry and it is compulsory for them to wear life jackets.

“Besides that, tickets will not be given when vehicles are already on the ferry but will be given at the landing before they board,” he said.

He said other measures include putting up big signboards or notice boards at ferry operating zones, installing guard rails on landings and also looking at the possibility of installing CCTV at all ferry points.

“We are looking holistically at the operations of all the ferries, comfort of users and their safety,” he said.

He added that there will be some increase in the volume of traffic during festive seasons and keeping the safety of the users remains a top priority.

“It is estimated that more than 40,000 vehicles use ferries in the state and the numbers tend to increase during festive seasons,” he said.

In the meantime, he said, the recent Triso tragedy on Jan 1 which claimed nine lives was regrettable and no one expected it.

Meanwhile, PWD Sarawak director Datuk Ir Zuraimi Sabki said there may be special exemptions when it rains which might make it difficult for passengers to get out of their vehicles.

“There must be special protocols in place on this, but not all the time,” he said.