KUCHING: Kota Padawan used to have good banking facilities which were convenient for people living in nearby areas or local traders to withdraw or save their hard earned money.
Most residents commented it was easier then as it was closer to home, and would not need to worry about transportation or needing to go back and forth to deal with financial matters in Kota Sentosa, Siburan or even Kuching.
There used to be a CIMB Bank branch in Kota Padawan but it has since relocated further to Saradise, which poses an inconvenience to the locals in having to commute long distances to settle their financial affairs.
“It is really disappointing that there is very little banking facilities here which makes it very hard to withdraw cash,” said Rose Pungot, a 53-year-old trader at the Kota Padawan market.
She said when CIMB Bank and Bank Rakyat were operating in Kota Padawan, it was very easy for people to withdraw money and deal with their finances.
“Now, there’s only Bank Rakyat left. It has automated teller machines (ATMs), but sometimes, it gets too crowded and the money runs out quickly,” she lamented.
Rose hoped that in the future, banking facilities could be established in the township to facilitate ease of transaction again.
Cobblers Saini Razali, 54, and Bujang Hamdan, 61, both commented that it has been difficult for them too.
Bujang said he and his wife had to ride to Kota Sentosa just to withdraw some cash from their account.
“It’s tiring and also concerning at the same time. I sometimes fear for our safety while out on the road during the long journey just to go to the bank.
“But we have got to do what we need to do because it is the only way to deal with the situation,” he said.
Saini chipped in, saying it was easier before to withdraw money at ATMs when the Giant Hypermarket opened in Kota Padawan a few years back.
“The hypermarket used to have numerous ATMs of different banks; Maybank, CIMB Bank and RHB Bank. It was very convenient for many people.
“After withdrawing their money, people can just buy food, accessories or essential items at the hypermarket inside. Now, there is none of that, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic,” said a disappointed Saidi.
Both men lamented the lack of banking facilities and hoped that the government would look into the situation.
Michelle Chin, a 24-year-old sales assistant, agreed that if more banks were established in Kota Padawan, people from Puncak Borneo could easily get their money and do business with the bank.
“I think it is a necessity, especially for those from the villages in Puncak Borneo. In addition, they do not need to go far to withdraw money and ultimately save time.
“Usually people will use Maybank, Bank Simpanan Nasional and CIMB Bank to open up accounts.”
Lee Hung How, 45, also said it was hard doing business with the banks far away from home.
“The closest ones are in Kota Sentosa and Siburan. Both towns have better banking facilities but it takes time to get there.
“It is unfortunate for people living here with not enough banking facilities around,” added the 45-year-old chicken rice seller.
New Sarawak Tribune had reached out to Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) chairman Lo Khere Chiang to ask about the lack of banking facilities in Kota Padawan.
“Broadly speaking, a bank is generally a business entity so it depends on them where to establish their branches.
“If there is a huge supply of money in the market, banks would go and establish their branches in the area,” he replied.
Lo also added that areas under MPP and in the Padawan area were developing with residential estates in the development process.
“Residential estates are mushrooming up, so very soon, we will see banks coming back to the Padawan area.
“Meanwhile, we just need to travel to the nearest bank to obtain our banking services as we commute up and down to Kuching,” commented the council chairman.
In the meantime, the people in Kota Padawan hope that over time and through development progress, banks will come back to serve the local community again.