Eight foreign off-road car owners fined $50 each

National 2 minutes, 36 seconds

BELAIT

EIGHT foreign registered off-road vehicles were penalised with compound fines worth $50 each yesterday, as one of them failed to present a valid documentation for clearance upon inspection at the Sungai Tujoh Control Post on Thursday.

Seven of the cars, however, were only passing by the country en route to Sabah to participate in the 26th Borneo Safari, under the banner of Bruneian four-wheel drive group SEPADU, while the other one was from a different group and here to participate in a flag-off event.

The representative of the SEPADU entourage, Shamsudden AZ, told The Brunei Times yesterday that compound fines were imposed on seven of them, seemingly due to the authorities mistaking them to be part of the group that came to Brunei for an event here.

Upon entering Brunei on Thursday, he said the group was immediately escorted to the Kuala Belait Police Station, where documents were checked. They stayed for a night here due to the long process.

The next day, they were approached by the police again and were escorted to the Traffic Investigation and Control Department headquarters in Gadong, where they met another off-road driver, named Hernan, who was from another group and in Brunei for an event.

The driver had failed to produce a clearance letter from the Land Transport Department (JPD) upon police inspection, and was at the headquarters to assist the police in their investigation, Shamsudden said.

He soon learnt that his entourage was grouped together, and was mistakenly noted to have been in Brunei for an event, while in fact, they were only passing by the country to head to Sabah.

Shamsudden had organised similar travels for nine years, noting it was the first time that he experienced such problem.

“As I understand, if the car is invited by a Bruneian organiser, it is the responsibility of the organising committee to prepare all the necessary documentations before getting the foreign off-road cars in,” he said.

“But if they are only passing by the country, to and fro Sarawak and Sabah, there is no need for that clearance letter, they will not even spend the night here,” he added.

Their case was brought up in court yesterday, where all eight cars, including Herman’s, were penalised with compound fines of $50 each for car modification offences.

Since all 18 participants in the entourage were Indonesians, a representative from the Indonesian embassy was there to accompany them throughout the proceedings.

The embassy’s minister counsellor, Endy Ghafur Fadyl, in a phone interview explained that there was a “misunderstanding as besides the traffic offences, the eight cars were also charged with running away from the authorities”.

Meanwhile, as this was the first time for Shamsudden to face such trouble, he hoped that it could be lesson learnt not only to the off-road enthusiasts but also to the organising committees to ensure they have prepared necessary documents if they wanted to bring in foreign off-road drivers.

Shamsudden’s group was then safely escorted by the representatives of the Indonesian embassy and the government to the Kuala Lurah Control Post, continuing their journey towards Sabah yesterday.

The Brunei Times