OPERATORS of kapal bandung can heave a sigh of relief as the government is building a reinforced concrete (RC) pontoon at the riverfront near the Tua Pek Kong Temple in Sibu.
Kapal bandung are double decker vessels used to transport goods to towns along Sungai Rejang, including Song and Kapit.
State Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin said the construction of the pontoon was a long-term solution to the poor condition of the facilities at the wharf.
“As promised, I am very glad to announce that a new jetty structure is to be built, ” he said when visiting the project site at the Pontoon Wharf Temple Street in Sibu.
“The appointment of the consultant and the tender process for the appointment of the contractor have been done in accordance with procedures by Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB), ” he added.
Lee said the appointment of the contractor, Syarikat Shar Permata, was done through open tender and that the project was expected to be completed in six months.
During this period, he said all the vessels would be relocated to berth at the RC Burung Apu Cargo Wharf for loading and unloading activities.
The project came about following a complaint by Persatuan Kapal Bandung Sibu early last year that four out of seven pontoons were partially submerged at the Pontoon Wharf Temple Street.
“These conditions are due to wear and tear, ” said Lee.
During the planning stage for the new project, some immediate repairs were carried out on the facilities, particularly the pontoon’s joint, fenders and steel rope ties.
A safety notice to remind the public to take necessary precautions at the facilities has been put up.
Since the formation of his ministry on Aug 22,2019, Lee said it has been working closely with SRB, the agency under its purview that is responsible for managing and monitoring the development of riverine facilities such as passenger terminals, wharves and jetties in the state.
“The ministry found some existing riverine facilities under SRB in dire condition that required repair and renewal works, ” he said.
The ministry also received complaints from users and operators of river transport on the condition of existing facilities that needed attention, he added.
“Some are in really bad condition, which may compromise the safety of users.
“All this while, SRB has been monitoring the physical condition of these facilities and has taken the necessary measures to ensure the affected pontoons are operational and can be used by the public, ” added Lee.
Among measures taken are pumping water daily out of the pontoons to reduce stress on the facility, scheduled inspection and monitoring of the boats.