Ship collision: Owners ordered to post RM1 million bond each


JOHOR BAHRU: The owners of the two vessels which collided at Pasir Gudang Port Tuesday night have been ordered to post a security bond of RM1 million each to the state government.

State Health and Environment Committee chairman Ayub Rahmat said the bond was to guarantee that the owners would take responsibility for the clean-up operation following the oil spill in the area.

“The Department of Environment also issued an order to detain the two ships so they would immediately pay up the RM1 million each to the government or face legal action.

“If they fail to pay, the government will hold on to their ships in accordance with Section 38 of the Environmental Quality Act 1974,” he told reporters at the State Environment Department Office here, this evening.

Ayub said action would also be taken under Section 27 of the Act for court action to seize the ships.

“However, the security deposit will be returned if the government is satisfied with the clean-up but we will calculate the total cost of cleaning which will be claimed from the ship owners,” he said.

According to Ayub, an order under Section 31 of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 was also issued to allow Johor Port Bhd to remove the ships’ cargoes to facilitate cleaning operations.

He said it was the responsibility of the ship owners to compensate some 350 fishermen who were affected by the incident.

“We have asked the Fisheries Department to collate and file on losses suffered by the fisherman,” said Ayub.

Meanwhile, fish and mussel breeding areas in Kampung Pasir Putih, Kampung Asli Teluk Kabung and Kampung Asli Kuala Masai have been identified as areas affected by the oil spill.

South Johor Fishermen’s Association chairman Azli Mohd Aziz said a survey at the breeding areas found traces of oil stuck to farm nets causing the fish to die.

He added that fish farmers were now trying to clean their nets with water jets to rid it of trapped oil. Azli said representatives from the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia (LKIM) came to monitor the situation and were now awaiting a report.

Yesterday it was reported a total of 371 fishermen from six fishing villages around Pasir Gudang Port would suffer losses of over RM130,000 as fishing activities were stopped for a week following the oil spill.

Meanwhile, the Johor branch of the Malaysian Nature Society expressed concern over the destruction of the marine habitat in the area following the oil spill.

Its advisor Vincent Chow said the area was ideal for fish and mussel breeding.

“The Straits of Johor is not an open sea … we are worried the oil pollution will spread when the high tide comes in.

“With the monsoon season, we fear strong winds will push the oil spills further harming the mangrove trees in the area,” he said when contacted here today.

However Chow was optimistic that the Johor Port Bhd in collaboration with agencies in the area have found the best solution to prevent the pollution from worsening.

In the incident, a container ship suffering a loss of navigational control after a power outage from a failed generator, rammed into a berthed container ship.

The impact tore a hole in the berthed ship’s hull, leading to a leak of about 300 tonnes of heavy fuel into the Johor Straits.