|KUCHING, Oct 26: Sibu Central Region Express Boat Owner's Association is appealing to the Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB) to reduce the wharf fee for their members as well as grant them continued permission to park at their current berth zone, despite the discontinuity of their operation permits.
Its deputy treasurer Nen Tan Huang said their members had received a reminder letter asking for the removal of their express boats from the current berth wharf.
Some members had also received reminder letters to pay outstanding wharf fees.
"Since the Covid-19 MCO (movement control order) in 2020, express boat services along the Rajang River, especially the lower reaches, has completely stopped, until today. We are not making any profit at all.
"We understand that if we do not pay the wharf fee and renew our operation permits, we are not allowed to park at the berth zone. However, we hope SRB can understand the difficult situation we are facing now, and allow us to continue use the berth zone.
"We do not mind paying wharf fees, but in view that the industry is dying and we do not have any income derived from the express boat service, give us a 50 per cent discount", said Nen.
He said on average, the wharf fee is about RM400 per month and a 50 per cent discount can really help to lessen their burden.
"We are willing for pay because we really have no place to park our express boats which are now no longer in operation due to the lack of passengers following the operning of the Sibu-Kapit Road", Nen told DayakDaily.
He further asked for SRB, if possible, to waive the outstanding wharf fees to assist the industry, which he claims has almost been wiped out except for some upstream services.
On the related matter of permit renewal, Nen said as the express boat industry has completely come to a standstill in the lower reaches of the Rajang, express boat owners will make even greater losses if they were to renew the operation permits.
"For us to renew the permits, we have to pay a big sum for insurance before we can apply for the permits. That is the main reason for our reluctance to renew.
"Do give us to figure out what to do with our express boats. Do take our predicament into consideration when making a decision", said Nen.
Before the commissioning of the Sibu-Kapit Road, river transport was the only way for the general public to travel to towns and settlements along the Rajang River including Song and Kapit.
Following the opening of the road, those from Sibu can reach Kapit via a two and half our drive, leading to the death of express boat industry which had more than 100 such boats plying the Rajang River on a daily basis in the 80s.
|The Dayak Daily