Wednesday, June 7

Dr Chan proposes court of inquiry on express boat tragedy


KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan has proposed that a maritime court of inquiry be set up to investigate the Ulu Tatau express boat tragedy in which 13 people perished.

The court of inquiry would identify the actual cause of the tragedy as well as to give safety recommendations to ensure that such tragedy would not happen again, he told a press conference here yesterday.

“I really felt very bad about the tragedy. When you come to think of it, 13 of 30 died — that is more than 40 per cent. Something must be very wrong somewhere. This is very serious.

“I’ll recommend to the state government to set up a maritime court of inquiry to look into all the problems over here,” he said.

Dr Chan, who is State Disaster Relief Committee chairman, pointed out that if the state government intended to increase the usage of river transport, a major mode of transportation in rural areas, safety measures must be enhanced.

“We hope to increase riverine travel because it is quite cheap and we have many rivers. Many rural people depend on boats to travel around, therefore, we have to make sure that they are safe,” he said.

On whether negligence could be the main cause of the tragedy, Dr Chan replied: “Initial report seems to indicate this.”

The tragedy occurred about 2.30pm on Monday in Sungai Kakus, Ulu Tatau when the boat was negotiating a bend in the river near Kelebu timber camp. The final count of those who survived the tragedy stands at 17.