By Brad Rantayy
MIRI, April 19: The mode of transportation used by Long Lama, Tutoh and Apoh folk to cross Batang Baram has undergone a significant change over the years.
Before 2002, the locals used boats and sampans whenever they wanted to cross the river to get to places such as Miri city, which is about a 90-minute drive away.
In 2002, two ferries appeared in the scene, but the fare was steep — RM15 per trip.
But the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem, who became Sarawak’s fifth chief minister in 2014, reduced the fare to a mere RM1 per trip in 2016.
Yesterday, another change took place that pushed the ferries out of the picture, permanently. In also ended an everyday scene at the riverbanks — long queues of vehicles.
Creating that change is a 573m bridge across the river. It was finally opened to the public after Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau performed the soft opening ceremony, which was attended by some 500 people.
Dennis said the locals hoped the bridge would be named after Adenan, as he was the one who approved the RM67 million project, where work started in 2016.
So, what is going to happen to the ferries that have faithfully served the people for 17 long years?
“It will be parked there (along the river) for the time being. Definitely, some kind of arrangement will have to be done between the Sarawak government and the ferry operator,” said Dennis Ngau when contacted by DayakDaily today.
It is no longer of use to Long Lama since the bridge is already completed, he added.
Dennis said the ferries could be moved to the Tutoh River instead to be part of the road construction project undertaken by the state government from Marudi to Long Terawan. There is a crossing at the Tutoh River, he pointed out. — DayakDaily