Maritime agency detains tugboat, barge laden with sand off Belawai
The tugboat and crew of six were detained for further investigation. — Picture by Dawn Chin

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TANJUNG MANIS, Feb 26 — The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Tanjung Manis Zone detained a tugboat, six crew members, and a barge laden with sand in waters off Belawai near here on Wednesday.

The barge laden with sand detained by MMEA.

Tanjung Manis Zone maritime commander Mohd Ariz Md. Kassim said the agency’s patrol boat intercepted the tugboat and barge during ‘Ops Permai’, around 1.2 nautical miles southwest of Tanjung Jerijih at 3.45pm.

Based on the initial investigation, the tugboat and barge laden with around 3,000 metric tonnes of sand were headed to Sibu from Kuching, he said.

Mohd Ariz said when requested by enforcement officers, the tugboat skipper failed to produce a port clearance pass as required under the Customs Act 1967.

“We detained a local skipper and five crew members comprising of one local and four Indian nationals, aged between 22 and 55 years, to facilitate further the investigation,” he said.

“The tugboat and barge had also been towed to Tanjung Manis and berthed at the HSL Jetty. The case will be investigated for an offence under Section 37(1) of the Customs Act 1967 — sailing without a valid port clearance pass.”

On another note, Mohd Ariz called on the maritime community, including fishermen, to always observe laws and safety measures such as wearing lifejackets while at sea.

He advised sailors and fishermen who encountered problems at sea to contact the MMEA Tanjung Manis Zone operations centre on 084-613292, State Maritime Operations Centre on 082-432544, or MERS 999. — Borneo Post