TAWAU (Bernama) – Tawau residents are supportive of the Sabah government’s directive to suspend all barter trade activities at all ports in the state with immediate effect, in a drastic move to curb cross-border criminal activities, including kidnappings.
Kalabakan division UMNO deputy chief, Ismail Ayit said the move was appropriate to protect the interests and safety of the people.
“As UMNO deputy chief, I fully support the decision by the state government on April 6 whereby Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman ordered the suspension of all such activities between the Philippines and Indonesia.
“The suspension will indirectly curb the activities of certain people such as the middlemen who just want to reap the profits,” he told Bernama when contacted here today.
The order for the suspension was jointly made with the two neighbouring countries on the basis of security, and would indirectly curb smuggling activities, especially of controlled items.
The state government also decided that the curfew order would be revised and fully implemented including taking stern, uncompromising action against any person, boat or ship which contravenes instructions by the authorities in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone).
Meanwhile, according to a Customs Department officer at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex (CIQ) in Tawau who wanted to remain anonymous, previously, every day at least one ship (known as ‘kumpit’) from the Philippines would go through the Tawau CIQ to buy essential goods in Sabah.
There would also be at least two jongkong ships from Indonesia which would go through the Tawau CIQ each week with goods for the people of Sabah.
“After unloading their goods, they would buy food items in Tawau to be sold in Indonesia,” he said.
Meanwhile, in SANDAKAN, an agent of the barter trade said he had incurred a big loss due to the suspension order.
Muhammad Sham Konel, 40, told Bernama he could not give an estimate of his loss as most of the boats from south Philippines would take the goods first before paying.
This was done as he had been trading with them for a long time, he said.
Last Wednesday, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman announced that all barter trade in all ports in the state was suspended with immediate effect.
The port and wharf in Jalan Sim-Sim where barter trade was conducted had been closed since last Thursday.