SIBU: The city has for a long time been synonymous with its many express boats plying along the Rajang River to places such as Song and Kapit.
Then, the picturesque express boat terminal was a hive of activity, especially during the festive seasons and school holidays, as people took them back to their hometown.
But the service is as good as dead with the completion of the Sibu-Song-Kapit road about two years ago.
The express boats have been grounded at the terminal since then.
An express boat replica maker Patrick Gani is, however, experiencing good response for his art.
His customers are people who are nostalgic of the good old days when the river was the only mode of transportation.
“I have sold six replicas of the boat and more orders are coming in,” said a proud Gani, 34.
His customers’ reasons for buying them are similar.
“They told me that they are displaying the boat replica in their office. They feel good each time they look at the miniature boat.
“Others ordered it as a souvenir for their friends or business partners outside the state as they consider it a rare decorative item.”
A 1m-long boat costs RM1,800 and RM2,000 for the 1.5m version.
“I use Austrian imported pinewood to make the boat.
“It is hardwood that can last. It usually takes me 27 days to a month to complete a boat as it demands patience and skill,” he added.
As a full-time carpenter of a furniture workshop, he can only work on the boat at night or when he is off.
His mini workshop is in his home in Sungai Bidut.
Some of his customers prefer their own design.
“When people send in their design, I will have to follow every single detail. There are also those who want a special name for their boat,” he said.