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(File pix) Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander Datuk Hazani Ghazali. Pix by Hafiz Sohaimi

SANDAKAN: The state government’s decision to revive the barter trade with neighbouring countries is expected to reduce smuggling activities, especially in eastern Sabah.

Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander Datuk Hazani Ghazali said that he welcomed the state government’s decision, and pledged that Esscom would continue carrying out security patrols when the new policy is implemented.

“We support the government’s move o revive barter trade because once it is allowed, it will reduce smuggling of subsidised goods.

“At Esscom, we will continue with our efforts to enhance maritime (security control) for the people’s safety and wellbeing,” he said when contacted by the NSTP.

Hazani said Esscom continued to monitor security matters under its jurisdiction, and it will look out for

cases of smugglers on ‘kumpit’ or wooden vessels used mostly by Filipinos to transport goods

“Security forces will not underestimate security issues involving ‘kumpit’ boats although there has been no record of previous incidents, including robbery of goods in Malaysia, Indonesian or Philippines waters.

On Tuesday, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal announced that barter trade activities with the Philippines and Indonesia will commence on January 1 next year following requests from traders, who wished for the ban on barter trade to be lifted.

Four bases for barter trade activities have been identified in Kudat, Sandakan, Tawau and Lahad Datu.

Shafie had said that the National Security Council would prepare the standard operating procedures and new approaches related to this type of trade, including determining items that were allowed and disallowed for bartering.

The previous state government had imposed a ban on barter trade in 2016 following rampant kidnapping and cross border crimes especially in Philippines waters.

Meanwhile, Sabah Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumerism Ministry director, Yahya Sulaiman said it would place personnel at each jetty or port that will be used for barter trade activities.

He said the ministry personnel would conduct inspections on goods being loaded on to the ‘kumpit’.

“We will ensure no subsidised foods are taken out. We will work with security forces and other enforcement agencies to carry out scheduled checks,” he said.

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