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Movement control order hits express boat operators
Tarikh : 21 Mar 2020
 

KAPIT: The movement control order (MCO), which came into effect on Wednesday, has been difficult on express boat operators plying the Kapit-Sibu route, forcing them to reduce trips.

According to statistics recorded by the Health Department team monitoring the health status of passengers arriving from Sibu, on Wednesday there were 706 passengers, while on Thursday the number dropped to 524.

Yesterday morning, there were only two passengers on the 6.40am service from Sibu, while the 7.30am express boat had just four passengers.

When contacted, one of the express boat operators — who did not wish to be named — admitted they were operating at a loss.

“The boat trips from Kapit to Sibu are hourly from 6.40am to 3.13pm; Sibu to Kapit from 5.45am to 2.30pm daily. However, since the outbreak of Covid-19, the number of passengers has greatly reduced. Now with the enforcement of MCO, the worst has happened, very few passengers.

“We are operating at a loss. One trip to and fro, diesel alone is around RM2,000 to RM3,000 depending on the engine and size of the boat. Yes, there is a diesel subsidy but it is limited and we still purchase at a high price,” he said.

As such, operators have applied to the Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB) to reduce the number of trips.

SRB Kapit officer Jerry Lenggir said operators were forced to reduce express boat trips or incur heavier losses.

“It is not my decision. This is business. They approached me to explain their dilemma. I could understand their particular situation.

“I advise those passengers who bought their tickets earlier to come to the counter at Kapit Terminal to reschedule their travelling time. Inconvenience is regretted but unavailable. I hope after we overcome Covid-19, then they could resume to normal trips,” he said