A ferry ride away from loved ones

The first ferry from Tanjung Balai in Pulau Karimun, Indonesia, arrived at Kukup International Ferry Terminal in Pontian, Johor, on May 19.

FAMILIES are finally reuniting with their loved ones following the reopening of the Kukup International Ferry Terminal in Pontian, Johor, after two years.

After being away from her Malaysian mother for more than two years, Indonesian Umi Laily Rohani was finally able to give her a loving embrace.

Umi Laily said her 83-year-old mother had been living with her siblings in Kuala Lumpur for decades.

“Before the Covid-19 pandemic, I would visit my mother at least three times a year but I was unable to do so after the borders closed.

“We tried communicating via video calls but it had been hard because of her hearing difficulties,” said the 60-year-old from Pulau Karimun, Indonesia.Umi Laily arrived by ferry to meet her mother after over two years.Umi Laily arrived by ferry to meet her mother after over two years.

She was one of the passengers who boarded a ferry from Tanjung Balai in Pulau Karimun, after the service resumed on May 19.

“I waited for the ferry terminal to reopen as I am not familiar with air travel or other ferry terminals in Johor.

“My brother will be picking me up and we will drive to Kuala Lumpur where I will spend a week with my mother,” said Umi Laily.

Indonesian Sara Bedul, 26, was glad to finally meet her relatives in Johor after three years.

“The last time I visited my relatives in Malaysia was during Hari Raya Aidilfitri three years ago.

“I missed them, especially my aunt who is like a mother to me,” she said.

Also relieved by the reopening of the ferry terminal are business owners who were hit hard by pandemic restrictions.

Ling Jit Hin, 40, who owns a grocery shop near the terminal, is glad to finally reopen.

“I closed my shop when the ferry terminal stopped operating in March 2020 as there were no customers.

“Almost 90% of my customers are Indonesians who use the ferry,” he said.

Ling had to resort to odd jobs to earn a living.

“I worked as a kitchen helper and sold food to other shops around Pontian Kechil to survive.

“It was a very challenging time for my family.

“I am relieved about the reopening and have started cleaning my shop and restocking goods.”

On May 19, state works, transportation and infrastructure chairman Mohamad Fazli Mohamad Salleh said the first batch of 107 passengers arrived from Indonesia at about 11.30pm.

“Only one slot was opened on the first day and on the second day, two slots will be available,” he said.

He added that the frequency would increase depending on demand.

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