Thursday, May 30, 2013

Express boats still overloading as Gawai rush picks up

Posted on May 30, 2013, Thursday

BUSINESS AS USUAL : The huge crowd at the Kapit express boat terminal as the Gawai rush picks up. Some boats are still overloading to accommodate passengers desperate to go home to celebrate the festival.

KUCHING: Despite the disaster of the Kawan Mas on Tuesday morning, some expressboats here are still overloaded with passengers as the Gawai rush back to the longhouses and villages picks up.

However, the overcrowding only occurs in boats plying the Baleh river from here as Burung Mas and Bakun Mas, the two sister boats of the ill-fated Kawan Mas, have been suspended from the Sibu-Kapit-Belaga-Bakun route with immediate effect.

As a result the passenger boat service from here to Belaga and Bakun has come to a complete stop as these three boats were the only ones serving this route.

The situation is made worse by the closure of the Bakun Dam spillway by Sarawak Hidro on Tuesday afternoon to lower the water level of the river to ease the search and rescue operation.

This has rendered parts of the upper Rajang too shallow to navigate.

With the Bakun-Belaga/Kapit river route closed, the only alternative route to Bakun and Belaga from here is via the Bakun-Bintulu road in private vehicles.

This alternative route is time-consuming and much more costly as a single trip may cost about RM200 because travellers might have to stay overnight in Sibu or Bintulu.

Comparatively, a single trip from Sibu to Belaga in an express boat costs only RM50 for economy class.

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