Border security in Esszone stepped up amid rise in Covid-19 cases


KOTA KINABALU: Security forces have ramped up border security in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) amid unabated cases of Covid-19 in Sabah’s south-eastern Tawau and Kalabakan districts.

The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) had arrested 21 Indonesians who were hiding in some bushes in the coastal area along Jalan Apas in Tawau on Saturday (May 29).

Esscom Commander Deputy Comm Datuk Ahmad Fuad Othman said all of them had just arrived in a speedboat from neighbouring Indonesia and were hiding in the bushes when they were arrested at 7.45pm.

He said the Esscom team comprising the General Operations Force (GOF), marine police and personnel from the armed forces moved into the area after receiving a public tip-off.

He said the 21 – seven men, 11 women, and three children – aged between six months and 70 – were found without any valid travel or identity documents.

He said the case is being investigated under the Immigration Act 1959/63.

DCP Fuad said Esscom, working with the armed forces, police and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), will continue to tighten security at water and land borders in all districts in Esszone areas.

“We are conducting aggressive patrols and monitoring including adapting the concept ‘show of force’ to control the entry of people from neighbouring countries in our efforts to curb and cut off the Covid-19 pandemic from spreading into the state,” he added.

DCP Fuad Fuad reiterated his call to the Esszone communities to continue providing information and cooperation to the security forces on those trying to sneak into the state.

“They should be ‘eyes and ears’ and channel important information, especially to provide information on people slipping into the state as well as criminal activities like smuggling,” he said.

He said that such people continued to attempt to use “rat lanes” and other illegal routes into the state.

The public can contact the 24-hour Esscom Operations Centre at 089-863 181 for immediate action.

“The communities in the Esszone should not work with these groups involved in people or contraband smuggling. We will not hesitate to take action against those abetting such smugglers,” he added.

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