Bus companies suffer losses as Sibu folk travel less

The almost empty Sibu Express Bus Terminal.

HARI Raya Aidilfitri and Hari Gawai are just around the corner, but it is all quiet at the Sibu Express Bus Terminal.

The annual mad rush of people at the terminal wanting to get home is no longer there.

At night, the place has become deserted, a stark contrast to the past when the terminal was bustling with buses coming in from out of town and buses heading out of Sibu.

Usually, around this time of the year with the festive celebrations approaching, the bus terminal in Jalan Pahlawan is packed with people.

Sarawak Bus Transport Company Association adviser Lau Khing Seng said bus companies were experiencing the worst time due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“A year ago, there were still a good number of people using the bus services.

“With the situation getting worse, it has severely impacted our business, ” he said.

He pointed out that the number of buses going to Mukah, Bintulu and Miri dropped by 86%.

“We can only operate one to two buses to each destination a day.

“Previously, before the pandemic, there were up to 20 trips on the Sibu-Mukah route, ” he said.

The ban on inter-district travel, Lau claimed, had prevented people from travelling for the Raya and Gawai celebrations.

Those wanting to travel not only have to apply for a police permit, but also need to have a swab test done that costs RM290.

“Not many people want to spend on the swab test just to travel inter-district during this period.

“This is affecting us as we are seeing fewer passengers in each bus now, ” he said.

Lau appealed to the state government for some allocation to tide them over this difficult time.

“The state government has helped by implementing the RM1 fare per trip for stage bus services, but the offer is not for express buses.

“We hope to receive financial assistance as our expenses for long distance bus service is higher than the stage buses, ” he added.

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