Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Scenes - Sarikei Merudu Bridge Part 2

It was with excitement when I saw this old picture at Wong Kwong Soon's house. He served at St. Anthony's School from 1953-1975 and was the Senior Assistant before he left.

Sarikei First Merudu Bridge under construction, 1970s
Sarikei River View (towards Jakar)
Source: Wong Kwong Soon's album

Can you imagine building this wooden bridge across Sarikei River where crocodiles could be seen every now and then in the 1970s? The first bridge was built in the early 1970s (source: 1991 government magazine) to link the Repok Road side with the mostly Chinese villagers living on the other side. Can anyone recall whether there was a ferry service?

Sarikei Merudu 摩鲁都 Bridges, Jalan Merudu, 1991
Second 2-way bridges on left. First wooden bridge on right.Repok Road in backgroundOld CTC sawmill on left; old temple on right.

A Cantonese called Jung Kwan ("Ah Pon") started his first sawmill at Rajang village near the Rejang River mouth. He closed it and moved the business to the 2.5 mile Repok Road junction.

When he sold his sawmill to an Australian company in the early 50s, the Aussie named it Colonial Timber Company Limited. It was later renamed CTC Timber Company because of the sensitive word "Colonial". The directors were Lester Minchin and J Bartle from Sydney. It was owned by several timber companies from different states of Australia. Lester Minchin was a Catholic and he donated all the electric fans in the old wooden St Anthony's church because he couldn't stand the heat of Sarikei.

The land where the CTC sawmill sat was owned by a Hakka named 鍾海松. This was before War World II and the machines were operated by steam from the burning of left over wood and later the process was converted to diesel.

Jung Kwan made a very fine commercial boat called Nam Hai 南海. Later the boat was sold to a Sibu businessman and was used between Sibu & Kuching. (Source: Reader Lidasar)

After the Australian sold CTC to Datuk Hii Yii Chiong's The Delta Group of Companies of Sibu , the Australian shifted to his operations to the Solomon Islands. CTC is still operating at the same place No. 316, Jalan Merudu (Update: demolished in 2012)

Sarikei Second Merudu Bridge, 2009
Sarikei River View (towards Jakar)
New Temple on left

The old sawmill furnace had been demolished. The old temple had been replaced with a newer one. This is an interesting temple to visit and you can spend some time chatting with the caretaker. There's a wide viewing platform above the river where you can try your luck to spot the monstrous resident crocodile that escaped some years back from the pen in the temple. (Update: caught and killed in Nov 2014).

A lady committed suicide by jumping into the river in the 1970s.

Sarikei Second Merudu Bridge, 2009
Left Lane, View from Repok Road side

The 2-way steel "Bailey" bridge opened to traffic in August 1990. The older bridge was left around for a while (see 1991 picture) and was later demolished. What is on the other side of the Sarikei River? There's a road leading to Jakar and another leading to Petalit / Kampung Seberang near to the new hospital.

Sarikei Second Merudu Bridge, 2009
Right Lane, View from Repok Road side

On the way, you will pass by Sze Li 泗利 primary school which was known in the 1970s for their very good lady basketballers and volleyballers (later inherited by St Anthony's Secondary School). I was surprised by the huge modern block (3 or 4-storey?). When was it built? Obviously, the population has exploded across the river. Did I see another school there?

Sarikei Second Merudu Bridge, 2009
Sarikei River view (towards downtown)

For those that have not ventured across this bridge for a spin, try it out for makan angin. Just don't dive into the river. The monstrous crocodile may be still lurking in the murky water.


nelson said...

i like to drive from ctc to sg baji or kpg seberang using the up and down road (lots of small hills). it will be more fun if you cycle there.

besides, i also remembered playing basketball at sze li at MIDNIGHT. it was so FUN. =)

Kanga said...

Before the first bridge, there was 'ferry' service which was a small motor launch ferrying people,bicycles and occasional motor bikes. For those who can remember, before the time of the fast water express travelling between Sarikei & Sibu, there was a 'fast' single decker motor launch named 'New Merudu'. This champion used to outrun all other acclaimed double decker motor launches. Those were the 1960's!

William said...

Wah.. you really bring back my memory. I have never been to Merudu even though I have a brother-in-law staying there.
I think CTC=Columbia Timber Company. I pass by the main road everyday and I think that name stick.
Wong Kwong Soon was my Math teacher. He literally saved me from Math. He was so good and literally remember the whole Math book. After a disastrous F2 Math by Mrs Lee, I thought I am doomed! My gratitude to him forever.

Daniel Yiek said...

pasted this email below

Date: Sat, 21 Mar 2009 13:03:47 +0900
Subject: CTC

Hi Dan,

CTC stands for either Colonial or Commonwealth Timber Company. After the Australian sold out in Sarikei, he shifted to the Solomon Islands. They were still operating when I was in the Solomons in the mid-90s!

leetiungping 李忠平 said...

I'm from Sg Murudu. I feel very sad b'coz d YB every time promise to built the concrete bridge but...
I hope we can change the YB from now. every body pls take action to fire ur YB.... let the YB...

Anonymous said...

Dear Daniel,

Wasn't Colonial Timber Company previously known as the British Milling and General Trading Company?


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