Friday, April 18, 2008

Scenes - Sarikei Borneo Bus

Sarikei Borneo Bus, 1957,
Repok Road, infront of Rex cinema (not built yet then),
Find the old style lamp post, Chartered Bank and Oriental Hotel.
Updated: The buses on the left were converted from lorries.
Source: Ease Chen

Borneo Bus Private Limited started in 1956 under Huang Zhong Lu 黃鐘如, 黃景善 and others. It then operated as Borneo Almagated Transport Sdn. Bhd. (BAT) and served the Lower Rejang via Repok Road and Sibu's Oya Road 2.

The bus station started in front of the Rex Cinema (not built yet then) in 1956 before it was moved to the side of Rex Cinema (behind the old 2nd library) between late 1960s to 1971. In mid 1970s, it moved to Bank Road after the fish market.

Sarikei Borneo Bus history, 1956
Source: Ease Chen

After the government had developed land transport, it cooperated with Binatang Bus Company to apply for government registration and added big buses to serve the public. It set the routes for Sarikei, Binatang, Pakan, Julau, Sibu, Roban, Saratok and others. In 1956-1957, it had 30 buses, 1 taxi and 10 plus staff.

Sarikei Borneo Bus, 1977,
Bank Road, Front View

How many of you remember this wooden building that was used as a office for the open air bus station? The floor of this bus station was blackened with dripping engine oil and the place smelled of diesel oil. In the 1970s, if you cycled past this area, you could see some ladies of the night operating there. Find the coconut trees in the kampung (Malay village) at the background. That area is now full of new shops.

Sarikei Bus Station, 2007,
Bank Road, Front View

Sarikei Bus Station, 2007,
Bank Road, End View

Borneo's buses connected the dots in Sarikei and the heartlands over the decades and are still popular among the rural folks and natives. How can we forget? Watch out, bumpy roads ahead!


Daniel Yiek said...

I didn't know that Chartered Bank operated in the block opposite Rex cinema.

Is that hotel called Oriental Hotel in the old days, operated by the Kueh family?

Was the bus stop in front of Rex cinema before it moved to the side of Rex cinema (behind the old 2nd library)?

willchua said...

I wish they would revamp the bus. I always felt like wrapping myself in bunny suit when i took the borneo bus to sibu. Ha ha..

Anonymous said...

Just chance upon your blog. Glad to see someone writing about hometown ......miss it somewhat after so many years in Singapore. Keep it going,


Kanga said...

'Bus stop??' In the 60's the bus stop would be any where when you press the bell or shout out loud (when the bell didn't work). The bus port was somehwere Daniel has described.

The old Charter Bank was at the ground floor of the current Oriential Hotel (48 Repok Rd). Next door was a coffee shop.

lidasar said...

Kopitiam & the Foochow rule but coming to transport is the Heng Hua that even the Foochow in Sibu have to KouTow to. Eventually a lot of the shares of Borneo Bus Private Limited end up in the hands of the Heng Hua in Sibu. The Heng Hua rules the bicycle shops of old Sarikei, one of them were the 1st shop of 3rd block Repok right where later they were also into smelting and making propellers.

The bus company applied and got a piece of land right behind Shell and opposite the old library. They were converting lorry into buses and eventually discover that converting land to a commercial block (Dr.Yip clinic) make a great leap towards profitability.

Daniel Yiek said...

If you count Bank Road block as Block 1 Right of Repok Rd, do you mean the bicycle shop was at 4th Block Right? ie 24 Repok Rd, Sin Hiap Hin, 新協興 next to San Hoo book store?

lidasar said...

My apology for making the confusion, yes you are right for identifying the shop.
Sometime I counted the 1st block starting from Bank Rd/Wharf Rd address but other time I counted the 1st block starting with No.1 Repok Rd address so it becoming confusing reading my comment.

Heng Hua is phenomenon for transport, building fishing boat, running bicycle shops and bus companies. In Sibu the two Heng Hua Bus companies were more successful than the Foochow's, more profitable. In Sarikei we don't have that many Heng Hua, actually some would ask what is Heng Hua......are they a kind of food or what? Haha!

Heng Hua rule bicycle shops in old Sarikei with 3 Heng Hua family starting bicycle business at the single storey wooden shops just before Methodist Church and direct opposite to Shell petrol kiosk. Two of the owner returns back to China after the war. The 1st shop at 4th block Repok right was also a Heng Hua bicycle shop when they 1st started. All this old Heng Hua are long forgotten, probably the bicycle shop that most can identify as "old" was the one at 5th block Repok left by the name Kwong Hock Lee with Cantonese proprietor.

kanga said...

My bicycles were well serviced by Heng Hua shops. without them, I would be in lots of trouble in those days. Yes! repairing one punchture was 30 cents!

Tuan Lokong said...

Just to keep the story on, I have a big bike and need to change tyres due to "bold" No one would do it. I went from shop to shops. Later the shop beside the Shell Service station or infront of Methodist Primary school agreed to do it for me. Guest they are my Bike Mechanic till date. Forgot the name of shop, they used to serviced the Traffic Police Bike.

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