KOTA KINABALU: A rusty barge-like chain ferry has become a relic since the launch of a new bridge linking Binsuluk and Kuala Penyu across Sungai Sitompok.
Before the bridge was completed in March, the ferry shuttled vehicles daily, so that motorists did not have to drive to Beaufort first before making a turn back to Kuala Penyu.
With the new bridge, the distance from here to Kuala Penyu is about 100km.
The alternative route from Beaufort is about 130km.
The ferry, also known as the "Iron Turtle" of Kuala Penyu, will most probably be reassigned to another district to carry out similar functions by its owners, the Public Works Department.
For now, however, it sits by the river in Kuala Penyu and serves as a "big toy" for the children and as a launching point for anglers.
"It has served us well," said James Tangin, 75, from Palu-Palu.
"I have been using the ferry service since the 1990s until it stopped operating recently, especially when I had to bring goods from the other side.
"Otherwise, I would use the boat to cross the river as it only costs 50 sen."
The new bridge, which cost RM60 million, will be a boon for the 23,000 people, most of them farmers and fishermen.
Quite a number of them are now involved in tourism, especially with the popularity of Pulau Tiga, about 30 minutes from the town, and the nearby Sungai Klias and Sungai Gerama, which are famous for their Proboscis monkeys and fireflies.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman had recently announced that there were plans to provide clean water supply to the district through a RM54 million project.
State Infrastructure Development Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan had also announced that Jalan Jempangan, Jalan Banting, Jalan Kayul Rimbaan, Jalan Siampak and Jalan Gerowot would be upgraded.
All these goodies are part of the government's National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) programmes which aim to improve the socio-economic situation of Sabahans.