20 sen ferry fare increase worries low income Sg Bidut-Sibu commuters

A notice on the ferry informing the public about the new fare rate.

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SIBU, April 13: The ferry fee to Sungai Bidut from here across the Igan River will see an increase of 50 per cent, from 40 sen to 60 sen effective April 15.

This ferry service, covering a distance of about 1km one-way, is mostly used by the lower income group. It can only accommodate motorcycles and pedestrians.

The skipper of the ferry who declined to be named said his company had no choice but to raise the fare.

“Petrol price is hitting the roof and moreover we don’t enjoy any subsidy from the government,” he said.

Regular ferry service user 33-year-old housewife Alice Grin who is staying in Sungai Bidut, said the ferry is the only mode of transport for her to get to the town.

“I am going to the town almost every day to buy daily necessities and to go to the bank to get my government financial aid. Sometimes I will also use the ferry at Jalan Kampung Datu as they are charging the same fare,” she said.

Alice hoped that this would be the last fare revision as it would cause a big dent in her pocket.

Another commuter, who wished to be known only as Anna, 49, said it would cost her dearly to use the ferry with the new fee but understood why the operator had to revise the fare.

“I understand that the operator has to increase the fare due to the higher fuel price. If they don’t do that they could resort to shutting the service. If that happens, how can we cross the river anymore?” she asked.

When told that she could use the Igan Bridge, she said that it is very inconvenient as the bridge is quite far from her home.

Motorcyclists disembark from the ferry on the Sibu side of the river.

Anna, who was spotted with her 7-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter on a motorcycle at the ferry ramp, said she has to send her son to school every day.

“The fare for three of us is 90 sen for one way as primary school students are charged 10 sen each. From April 15, we will have to pay more,” she said.

She recalled that the fare has been revised several times since 1995.

“It was only 20 sen in 1995. After that they increased it to 30 sen, then 40 sen,” she added. — DayakDaily