Tawau ferry terminal bustling with energy as Indonesians begin Raya exodus

18 Apr 2023 06:45pm
The ferry terminal in Labuan - BERNAMA
The ferry terminal in Labuan - BERNAMA
TAWAU - Indonesians living in the country are starting to travel home to celebrate Aidilfitri in their hometowns, and the ferry terminal here has become busier and livelier than usual.

A check by Bernama at the Tawau Ferry Terminal found that people of various ages had been waiting since early in the morning to buy tickets to board the ferry to Nunukan, Indonesia.

One of the ferry operators, Amir Hamzah, 42, said that it is estimated that 1,000 Indonesians daily have used the ferry service to return home since last week.

"There are many people who are travelling back to their hometowns, so the terminal is bustling with activity, as there are seven express ferries available to accommodate passengers. During the festive season or school holidays, we estimate that 1,000 leave (Nunukan) per day, compared with 200 to 300 per day on normal days.

"Thus far, tickets are still sufficient, and there is no need for additional ferries,” he told Bernama here today.

The ferry ticket from Tawau to Nunukan, Indonesia is priced at RM130 for adults and RM70 for children. The journey takes about an hour.

Meanwhile, Mardiansyah Asrul, 32, who works as a cook in Bintulu, Sarawak, said that she took a two-week leave to celebrate Aidilfitri with her family in Nunukan, after four years of not being able to return home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I took a flight from Sarawak to Kota Kinabalu yesterday. From there I took a bus to Tawau and arrived here at 11 pm last night.

"I'm happy to go back and I can't wait to see my family, I miss them! Every time I had a video call with my family in Nunukan, they often ask me when I'm coming back to Nunukan,” she said.
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Normah Lahami, 40, who comes from Makassar, but lives in Tawau, working on a farm here, is so excited to return to her hometown after 12 years of not being able to do so due to work commitments.

"Today I travel alone as my husband is already in Nunukan. I am happy to celebrate in Makassar because all the family members are there, we can cook together,” she said, adding that once she arrives in Nunukan, she has to board a ship for a three-day-and-two-night trip to Makassar.

Meanwhile, Tawau MMEA director, Maritime Captain Shahrizan Raman, reminded Indonesian nationals who are travelling home to their hometowns to use the gazetted route.

He said this was due to the fact that every time before the festive season, there were attempts to smuggle illegal immigrants in and out of the border area of Tawau and Nunukan waters, Indonesia through the rat trails.

"We understand that in Tawau and Nunukan area there are many people who have family ties, so those who come here during Aidilfitri illegally, we will chase them out and issue them with a warning.

"This applies to migrant smuggling syndicates which come en masse; we strongly warn them against it," he said.

Shahrizan said that MMEA is tightening control in the national border area by conducting 24-hour patrolling and intelligence operations during Aidilfitri to curb cross-border crime - BERNAMA