The history of motor launches in the Rajang River started with the first motor launch introduced by Reverend James Hoover in the early 1900's. In a few years my grandfather Tiong Kung Ping himself owned three of the wooden motor launches. However in the 1980's the engines for boats and even the shapes of the motor launches. Thus entered the era of the Express Boats which changed river travelling dramatically. Time taken was only about 2 hours between Sibu andB intangor which had taken almost a day in the 1960's.
Gone are the motor launches we were once waiting impatiently for in the early hours of the morning when the river mists hanged low over the river Rajang. Sing Hai Huong (New Sea Emperor), Wong Doon (Far East),etc. Those were also the boats which brought our smoked rubber sheets to Sibu to be exported to Singapore directly. Today no direct exports could be sent out of Sibu by sea going ships any more. Gone are also the Soon Bee, the Ang Bee and the Rajah Brooke,etc.
The change in the use of powerful express boats has caused tremendous river bank erosion.
Most of the homes lost their jetties and that included the jetty owned by my uncle Lau Pang Sing. For a while many people continued to repair their own jetties while most gave up and just let their jetties fall into disrepair or allow them to "float away".\
Today this scenery of boats or motor launches tied to small home made jetties is just a part of our memory.
|This is an express boat from Kuching travelling towards Sibu on the Rajang as seen from our Nang Chong ferry (Photo by Sarawakiana)|
|A lovely express boat going towards the mouth of the Rajang River.(Photo by Sarawakiana)|
|Looking at the fast express boat after it has passed us..within minutes.|
Waves created by express boats are very very powerful and can even wash away houses along the river banks like my own grandmother's house in Nang Chong. Today there is a speed limit for these express boats.(Photo by Sarawakiana)
The Sarawak River Board is responsible for the safety and control of river traffic.