KUCHING (Aug 17): Public transportation by land from Pontianak right up to Kuching Sentral bus station and vice versa will resume by Sept 2022 and flight operations between Kuching and Pontianak will resume by Dec 2022.
Currently, Damri buses from Indonesia are still plying to Sarawak but only up to the Tebedu/Entikong border, consul-general of the Republic of Indonesia in Kuching, Raden Sigit Witjaksono, said.
“The Indonesian bus, Damri, at the moment is only plying up to Tebedu/Entikong border to drop-off passengers, and from the border, Bus Asia (from Sarawak side) will pick the passengers and take them to Kuching Sentral bus station.
“That’s how it is at the moment after the pandemic,” he said, when asked about the bus operation for both Pontianak and Kuching.
He was with after officiating at Indonesia’s 77th Independence Day celebration at the compound of the Indonesian consulate general here.
He added that since the opening of the two main border entry points at Tebedu/Entikong and Biawak/Aruk (in Lundu), both Damri and Bus Asia buses have been plying the routes but only up the border since April 2022.
“When the borders here (in Sarawak) started to open in April, 2022, we noticed that the number of visits from both sides had increased.
“Yesterday, I received a report on the latest update on the border. According to the report, there were more than 400 visitors per day, both ways. We hope that the number will increase with the availability of transportation facilities. Right now, discussions are being held to allow Damri buses to reach Kuching Sentral.
“Hopefully in September this can be done – Pontianak to Sarawak and vice versa. We are in the process of finalizing some details now,” he said.
Meanwhile, Raden Sigit said that he is hopeful that the Sarawak side of Telok Melano (called Temachuk in Indonesia) will be opened to the public soon.
“The design of Telok Melano has something to do with tourism, here in Sarawak it is known as Telok Melano whereas on the Indonesian side it is known as Temachuk. That’s one of our hopes for it to be opened soon. Same attention must also be given to Serikin (Sarawak side) and Jagoi Babang (Indonesian side) because these borders are potential destinations for both countries, in terms of tourism, economy and business,” he said.
On air travel between Pontianak and Kuching, he expected it to resume from both sides by the end of this year.
“We are also still finalizing on this one, we hope in the future, like before the pandemic, there will be air connectivity between Kuching and Pontianak. It will be very helpful for medical tourism as many people from Pontianak or West Kalimantan come for medical treatment. Traveling by land will take some time.
“This is what we hope to discuss because we know that there are some potential reasons for both sides. Who knows, we could even expand it to Kuching-Jakarta or Kuching to Bali for tourism,” he said.
Pontianak based Damri buses, as an operator of interstate bus lines connecting Pontianak to Kuching, is still a choice for the community. For now, Damri buses depart from Pontianak three times and also three times from Kuching to the border daily.