RANTAU PANJANG: The El Nino effect in this district is so severe that it has reduced Sungai Golok to a stream.
The river divides Kelantan and Thailand and it is now especially easy for those wanting to cross the border without a passport to do so.
In fact, it is even possible in some spots to do that without getting your feet wet.
“This is the worst of the hot seasons to have happened here, and for residents to see a river turn into a mere stream, it is unreal for them,” said restaurant owner Mokhtar Ismail, 61.
“This has never happened before to the extent that one can cross the river without even getting their shoes wet.
“We are seeing the worst of this river, which must be at its lowest ebb in over 20 years,” added Mokhtar, who runs a restaurant at Chabang Tiga here.
He said conditions in the river during the dry season also posed a danger, being similar to low tide – the sand in some parts is like quicksand.
“It may look harmless and shallow but the sand is swirling underneath,” added Mokhtar, who said children had been known to drown in such conditions.
Boat operator Zailani Ibrahim, 44, who charges RM1 to ferry passengers between Thailand and Kelantan, said he had never seen the river turn into a stream before.
This year’s dry season, he added, was very long compared with previous years.
“I lost my whole income for the month. It is also not possible to anchor my boats here so I have anchored them about 1km from here,” he said.
“If this continues for the next two or three months, I will have to find another job to feed my family,” said Zailani, who is one of the 60 boat operators along the 34km river.
Meanwhile, it is understood that Bukit Kong, a dam built to supply water for agricultural purposes, is becoming popular with the locals as its level has dropped tremendously.
People go to the dam daily to enjoy a swim in the shallow waters.