LETTER | Last March, I pointed out the importance of getting it right from the start when the Malacca and Terengganu state governments planned to operate water taxis for tourists to enjoy cruises along scenic rivers.
Last month, I cautioned that danger lurks beneath rivers and flood waters, soon after an amphibious bus (amphicoach) went on a trial run in Kuala Terengganu.
The amphicoach was ordered from Malta and was supposed to be delivered by May 2015, but was repeatedly delayed because of technical issues.
I warned that even boats and ferries can sometimes sink in bad weather, what more for a road-going vehicle that was made to float by adding special features.
The state government should not have taken such a risk as the novelty of having a bus being driven into the water would soon wear off.
It would have turned into the clumsiest rescue vessel if used for ferrying victims during monsoon floods. There is no way for people trapped in floods to enter the vehicle without opening the door, which would allow water to rush in.
Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Razif Abd Rahman ought to be lauded for being concerned enough to take a test drive of the amphicoach yesterday, but it stalled in the middle of the wide Terengganu River.
Several boats came to the rescue and it was later hauled up to the shore last night, unceremoniously towed by a tow truck.
Ahmad Razif refuted claims that the RM3 million amphicoach was damaged. He described the fault as minor because the water jet propulsion hose came loose and was disconnected.
The amphicoach was still in its trial period, and more tests are to be conducted to ensure its safety.
It would be prudent if the amphicoach is not put into service for the public, as a tragedy would roll back years of efforts made by
the state government in promoting tourism. Playing with water is as dangerous as playing with fire.
About 700 people drown annually in Malaysia, mostly from ignoring the ominous signs.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.