Danger lurks beneath rivers and flood waters

ON Wednesday, an amphibious bus (amphicoach) made its first public appearance on the Terengganu River, passing by many attractions, including the iconic Masjid Kristal (Crystal Mosque).

The amphicoach is meant to boost tourism and be deployed during floods. But how well it serves its dual purpose remains to be seen.

In 2014, the Terengganu State Government signed a contract with Alam Perkasa Technology Sdn Bhd for the purchase of two units of amphicoach worth RM3.3 million from Malta for delivery by May 2015.

The plan was to use these vehicles for ferrying victims during the monsoon floods and thereafter to promote tourism along Sungai Terengganu and Tasik Kenyir.

Despite repeated delays, RM2.745 million was paid out. Last Nov 16, the state government decided to terminate the contract and instituted legal proceedings against the company for compensation and return of the paid amount.

It could have been a blessing in disguise. There must be something terribly wrong, such as technical issues, to have caused repeated delays.

If a bus load of tourists sank in the waters of Terengganu, it would be a great setback for tourism in the state.

Toying with the idea of having coaches that could be driven into the Terengganu River or Kenyir Lake is playing with water, which is as dangerous as playing with fire.

Victims marooned by flood waters would not be able to jump into the amphicoach as flood waters would rush in once the door is opened.

It is far safer and cheaper to operate passenger ferries for tourism and rescue boats during floods.

An amphicoach may be a novelty, but many riverine cites around the world place safety first.

About 700 people drown annually in Malaysia and every life lost is one death too many. Steps should be taken to reduce it, including avoiding unnecessary risks.

When floating vessels can sometimes sink, what more with a heavy road-going vehicle?

Moreover, the Land Public Transport Commission is unlikely to issue a special permit for such an odd vehicle, and it cannot be sent for initial inspection at Puspakom if it is not approved by the technical department of the Road Transport Department.

CY Ming