77,018 people used ‘penambang’ to cross Batang Kemena as of July

Lee (third left) presenting a life jacket and BKSS cheque to one of the operators.

BINTULU (Sept 1): A total of 77,018 people crossed the Batang Kemena by ferry boats run by ‘penambang’ operators as of July this year, said Sarawak Transport Minister Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin.

He said there were 12 penambang operators registered with Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB) in Bintulu to operate at RC passenger boats ramp and RC boat ramp (mini ferry) along Batang Kemena.

According to Lee, both facilities are managed, operated and maintained by SRB.

Lee said this during a simple handing-over ceremony of RM500 one-off financial assistance from the state government to the 12 penambang operators at Bintulu Passenger Terminal yesterday.

The financial assistance is part of the Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang 8.0 (BKSS 8.0) one-off incentive for penambang operators.

He said on Jan 28 this year, Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg announced BKSS 8.0 valued at RM285.47 million in the form of special allowances, incentives and grants for Sarawakians.

Lee said the one-off financial aid for registered penambang operators was among the six measures under BKSS 8.0 to assist Sarawakians during phase four of the National Recovery Plan.

“During the movement control order and conditional movement control order, the penambang operators suffered loss of income due to the drastic drop in number of passengers,” he said.

He added the financial aid under BKSS 8.0 worth RM99,500 to 199 penambang operators registered with Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB) would help ease their financial burden.

There are 131 registered penambang operators in Region 1 (covering Kuching, Samarahan, Serian, Sri Aman and Betong Divisions), nine in Region 2 (Sibu, Sarikei, Mukah and Kapit) and 59 in Region 3 (Bintulu and Miri).

“The Ministry of Transport, Sarawak and Sarawak Rivers Board will continue to closely monitor the situation and development of the water transport services in the state during this period of phase four of the National Recovery Plan,” said Lee.

Meanwhile, SRB chairman Dr Murni Suhaili urged all penambang operators to continue emphasising on safety and giving their best services to their passengers.

He was impressed with the strong support and cooperation from the penambang operators in complying with the rules and regulations and operational safety aspects.

The 12 registered penambangs who received the financial aid were Sumber Rezeki 1, Rothman, Ana, Aloha, Sumber Rezeki 2, Gemini, Servis Cepat, Puspa, Izzama, Tertong, Jepak Maju and Wawasan Jepak.

Also present at the event were Ministry of Transport Sarawak administrative officer Teo Swee Ann, SRB acting controller Ding Tiew Wong, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency Bintulu director Lieutenant Commander Mohd Naiem Razak and Bintulu District deputy police chief DSP Dennis Bunyam.

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