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Tortuous Pelagus Rapids tamed
by James Ling. Posted on October 30, 2012, Tuesday
APPEASING THE SPIRITS: Masing (left), with Dahim at his side, places the piring (offerings) at the river bank after the ‘miring’ ceremony.
KAPIT: The RM9.8 million initiative to blast seven boulders in the notorious Pelagus Rapids is 90 per cent completed, and a special ‘thank you miring’ ceremony was held near Wong Pelagus yesterday afternoon to appease the spirits for allowing the project to proceed smoothly.
Work is three months ahead of schedule, and everything should be wrapped up by the end of the year, said Tan Sri Dr James Masing, Minister of Land Development, when he officiated at the miring ceremony.
He said the remaining 10 per cent involved one more blasting of Sukat in the upper reaches of Pelagus Rapids, to tidy up the rough edges, survey work, and installation of signage along certain stretches of the rapids.
Masing said he was confident that with the removal of the seven boulders the people would be able to navigate that one-kilometre stretch of Batang Rajang safely and smoothly. The Pelagus Rapids is about an hour’s journey from Kapit town using a 400 horse-power speedboat.
He recalled that for a very long time, people feared navigating the Pelagus Rapids for many lives and properties had perished. For instance, memories of the 1997 speedboat tragedy where three senior government servants, comprising deputy Kapit Resident Michael Duk and his staff, drowned at ‘Wong Sukat’ still lingers among the locals.
Ever since the late 1990s, the state government had pondered ways to improve navigation at that torturous stretch, he said.
“Upon the completion of the blasting of Sukat/Pantu Rock, I hope navigation will be smooth and free from untoward mishap for passengers passing through Pelagus.”
He told those present that he had traversed through the rapids before coming to the miring ceremony and the ride was “smooth and easy”.
On the miring ceremony, Masing said the first one was held last March to appease the environment/nature spirits before blasting works commenced on May 18.
“Today, we come back for the Thanks giving ‘miring’ that work was carried out smoothly and free from any untoward incidence.”
Masing thanked the people, the boat operators and community leaders in Pelagus and along the Batang Rajang for working closely with the contractor – Putra Sentosa Enterprise – and the government to ensure the smooth implementation of this project.
He said the people should realise that the project was a government initiative for their wellbeing, and that they should reciprocate what the government had done for them.
The miring ceremony saw the recital of a ‘pantun’ by Yong Aji and a pig sacrificed in accordance with local Iban customs and traditions. This was followed by the passage of a longboat, speedboat, express boat and a tug boat through the ‘cleared and safe water passage’.
Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB) controller William Jinep, SRB deputy controller Teo Swee Ann (who was also in-charge of the project), Kapit Resident Dahim Nadot, District Officer Elvis Didit and Kapit police chief DSP Entusa Imam were among those present.