By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, Apr 28: The Covid-19 outbreak has made it imperative to expedite the construction of a Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex at Kampung Serikin if the Sarawak government hopes to ensure its security without jeopardising business activities in this trading border village.
Such is the view of Tasik Biru assemblyman Datuk Henry Harry Jinep in explaining the urgency of establishing CIQ complex at Kampung Serikin so that the government can strictly impose immigration rules where passports are needed to enter Sarawak via Serikin.
“Now our foreign neighbours may enter Sarawak by only using a temporary pass. With the temporary pass, the furthest they can go is up to Batu Kitang. They can’t go beyond Bau District.
“The question is how can we monitor whether they go beyond Bau District?” Harry told DayakDaily today.
He said the establishment of a CIQ is critical to ensure a firm control over immigration entries and exits without compromising vibrant business activities at Serikin, a village which rose to fame and prosperity as it slowly developed from just a small trading post into a full fledged business centre which sees hundreds of stalls open, especially during weekends.
During weekends, stalls selling all sorts of merchandise line both sides of Kampung Serikin Road for about one kilometre before it reaches a buffer zone at the Sarawak-Kalimantan border.
The village has also emerged as a place which generates economic activities for the locals, as it has also become a well-known and must-visit tourism destination for domestic and foreign tourists visiting Sarawak.
With the movement control order (MCO), Serikin village has become like a ghost town, with only about five grocery shops still in operation.
The Serikin villagers, known to be shrewd and successful traders and entrepreneurs, agreed fully with the government’s policy of restricted movement as being a border village, they have an additional worry during this time – that the disease may spread to their village across the international border.
In view of the fact that there are some “jalan tikus” (illegal crossings by persons without proper documents) and “jalan gajah” (smuggling trails for vehicle crossing) in Serikin areas, the villagers are also worried about the illegal crossings especially now that there is an alarming spike in Covid-19 cases in Indonesia in general.
On the issue, Harry assured that not only are the illegal routes in Serikin manned by the relevant authorities, the same also applied to other border villages such as Kampung Stass and Kampung Gumbang which are known to be points of illegal crossings.
“Serikin border post is now closed on both sides. So no one can come in or go out. Just for Serikin, there is a battalion of army manning all the Jalan Tikus and Jalan Gajah. They will man the post for three months each time before a new batch of army personnel will come and take over.”
According to Harry, there is no issue of illegal crossing at this time of MCO and thus no issue of Indonesians spreading the deadly virus. His main concern however is Kuchingites bringing the disease in to Bau which was a green zone until two days ago.
“It is now a yellow zone because the pandemic has been brought to Bau by some Kuchingites,” said Harry.—DayakDaily