SARIKEI: Sarikei, 356km by land from Kuching, serves as the main transit point for travellers, either by road or sea, between Kuching and Sibu.
Also known as Pekan Nenas, with a 3.6m replica of the fruit bearing testimony to it being a pineapple town, Sarikei is easily accessible by road, albeit meandering through thick forests and oil palm plantations.
Sarikei is among the four subdistricts in Sarikei division, covering 4,332.4 square km with a population of 130,000 comprising Iban, Melanau, Malays and Chinese.
The other subdisricts are Meradong, Julau and Pakan.
With development, the once isolated and remote Sarikei has progressed and the people now enjoy infrastructural facilities and economic opportunities.
File photo showing Leman Aban, 54, pushing a trishaw full of pineapple from Sarikei to a wet market in Sibu.
District council chairman Simon Cham Kam Wuai said that visitors began arriving in Sarikei after the road from Kuching was completed last year.
He said most of the foreign tourists were from Australia, Japan, Taiwan, China, Singapore and Europe.
He said Sarikei was known for agricultural produce like vegetables and fruits, sea food and places of attraction like the Sebangkoi Forest Park opened in 1982.
It provides a suitable place for seminars as it has a hostel, canteen and other facilities.
Cham said the council planned to plant 400 species of tropical trees in the park under the Ninth Malaysia Plan besides developing the Sungai Sarikei and Sungai Nyelong river banks for tourism.
He said the council provided opportunities for residents to carry out petty trading by providing stalls at Medan Selera Baji Jaya.
The Temenggong of Sarikei, Abdul Rani Suhaili, said that transport facilities in the area prompted farmers to carry out commercial farming because they could market their produce without much hassle.
He hoped more investors would come to Sarikei to carry out agricultural projects taking advantage of the land available.
He said that people in Sarikei were able to enjoy the benefits of development with the construction of schools, government offices and a new hospital costing RM250mil.
“This is the benefit we get if we support the Government. Besides enjoying the peace, we get to improve our livelihood,” he added.
“For those planning a holiday, Sarikei is a good place. There is no traffic congestion. The place is peaceful and food is cheap,” said Abdul Latiff Tamang, 50, a resident of Sarikei. – Bernama