PORT DICKSON - Banana boat operators are still engaging in a dangerous stunt where they "dump" their passengers into the sea at the end of their rides despite the death of a 30-month-old girl from a similar incident on Sunday.
Checks by The Star along popular beach stretches here showed that banana boat operators were still at it despite an order prohibiting them from endangering passengers.
State Tourism and Consumerism exco Tun Hairuddin Abu Bakar said the operators had been told to give priority to their own safety as well as that of their passengers.
"Sunday's tragedy could have been avoided if everyone, including her parents, had been more vigilant," he said. "We have told the boat operators to strictly abide by the rules but despite this, the tragedy still occurred."
In the 7pm incident, Nur Hannan Humairah Mohd Hafrisham almost drowned after she was flung into the sea with her father and seven other passengers after the banana boat operator allegedly performed the stunt.
Although she regained consciousness after being given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, she died due to complications at the Tuanku Ja'afar Hospital in Seremban several hours later.
Tun Hairuddin said government agencies such as the Marine Department and the Port Dickson Municipal Council (MPPD) were responsible in enforcing regulations pertaining to beach watersport activities.
When contacted, a Marine Department officer said they were only responsible for issuing licences for the boats.
"Licences for water scooters and additional fittings to boats, such as the inflated banana-shaped rafts, come from the MPPD," he said.
Attempts to get comments from MPPD acting chief Abdul Khalid Mat were unsuccessful.
Several holidaymakers here said the banana boat operators had been engaging in such stunts for years.
Abdul Hakim Osman, 47, who visits Port Dickson regularly with his family, said he had also seen the boat operators travelling at extremely high speeds despite rough sea conditions.
"To be frank, I have never seen any enforcement officer checking their licences or to see if they were not overloaded with passengers during my many visits here," he said.
"The authorities should treat this matter seriously before a similar tragedy recurs."