TIME SAVED … The Batang Rambungan ferry in Lundu is not as busy as it used to be since the movement control order was imposed on March 18. Along with the ferry services in Batang Lupar (Sebuyau/Triso), Batang Saribas (Pusa/Beladin) and Batang Paloh, Batang Rambungan ferry has been directed to operate only from 7am to 7pm until further notice. Consequently, after these hours, traffic along the coastal road between Kuching and Lundu connected by this ferry is almost non-existent. However, for the truck on the right, which is delivering government food aid in the area, no long queues are a boon. Travelling time is so much shorter. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

KUCHING: The road to Lundu from here was still largely deserted yesterday which was the sixth day of the conditional movement control order.

It was a stark reminder that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has forced people to change their lives greatly, including not having the usual Hari Raya Puasa celebration this year.

There will be no ‘balik kampung’ (village trips) and the traditional open houses are so tightly controlled that many people might not even bother with them.

At Batang Rambungan ferry point in Lundu, which is usually a bustling area, there were no queues of vehicles on both sides of the river waiting to cross.

Even though working indoor as ferry driver, Hasbi Raini still wear the face mask as to abide with the SOP.

Hasbi Raini, a worker at Batang Rambungan ferry, said the frequency of people coming to Lundu had dropped drastically since the implementation of the movement control order (MCO).

He said this was because the ferry’s operating hours had been limited to between 7am and 7pm daily.

“At the moment, only one ferry operates until midnight,” he said.

Most of those who cross the river only do so for work purposes. It was very unlike the usual weekends when visitors from Kuching came to Lundu for leisure, he told New Sarawak Tribune yesterday.

He recalled that the current scenario was slightly better than during the first and second phases of the MCO.

“Sometimes, we waited up to 45 minutes before a car turned up. Sometimes no car came at all,” he said.

Roslan Sepian, who works with Hasbi as the person controlling car traffic at the entrance to the ferry, said that most of the cars queuing up at the ferry point were from Lundu.

“There are always a lot of people here but yesterday was so quiet even though it was Sunday. It seemed that even after the government allowed people to go out, they are still scared to do so,” he said.

For a fish trader, Ahmad Zainuddin Abdul Malek, the CMCO had made driving from Kampung Telaga Air to Lundu much easier as most of the time he had the road all to himself.

“I drive to Lundu every day to collect fish from fishermen. The road is empty most of the time so it’s quite convenient, but sometimes we have to rush a bit because the deadline is 7pm,” he said.

Waiting about 15 to 30 minutes for certain number of vehicles to reach inside ferry before departures is normal things during the MCO and sometimes, there is no vehicle at all.