KOTA KINABALU: A community leader has asked school authorities in Penampang district, especially those along the Moyog River, to teach their students not to swim in the river during the rainy season.
This follows the tragedy of two high school students who drowned after being swept away by strong currents while swimming in Kampung Pogunon last week.
Kampung Inobong Village Development and Safety Committee (JPKK) Chairman Nicholas Quintin Pasus said recreational park operators should also play their role in advising visitors not to be in the river when dark clouds form.
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“Schools can help reduce the possibility of such drowning incidents if they warn their students about the dangers of swimming in the river during bad weather.
“Teachers should tell students to take care of their safety when going out on the river,” he said when contacted on Wednesday (22 June).
Nicholas also asked recreational park operators, which abound across the river, to give their guests similar advice.
“It could be a drizzle downstream where people are swimming, but it could be something completely different upstream, in the highlands, where there is heavy rain.
“These operators are more aware of how quickly the weather can change from good to bad, so they can advise or inform visitors about the signs,” he said.
Harold Walter and Tomansi Olaf, both 17, drowned after swimming in the river on Saturday (June 18). They had gone there with four other friends before a football friendly that day.
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This would have been a tragic decision when Harold and Tomansi were suddenly swept away by a strong current while their friends – Jeremiah Maxwell, Constant Felix, Jameson Johnwai and Bryan Lee – managed to save themselves after climbing to higher ground.
Harold’s body was found at 2:45 pm on Sunday (June 19), while Tomansi’s body was found at 11:04 am on Monday (June 20).
Many lives have been lost at the famous Sungai Moyog in recent years due to incidents of drowning due to erratic currents due to heavy rains in the Penampang highlands.
The river divides several villages from the Babagon area of Penampang to the neighboring Putatan district.
Several Penampang villages along the Moyog River have also begun suspending all activities on the river, including picnics, camping and swimming until public safety measures are in place.
Moyog Community Development Unit chief Joseph Suleiman said the river is now banned in Kampung Pogunon, where the drowning took place, adding that the action was taken after the consent of the district office, police and community leaders.
“We want to provide safety procedures that help ensure the safety of river users after the tragedy,” he said.
Nicholas said he had also issued a letter asking parents and guardians in Kampung Inobong not to allow their children to participate in any activities on the river, especially during the now unpredictable weather.