Monday, January 31, 2011

Bintulu in 1955

Wooden shophouses facing the Main Bazaar Road in 1955 ( B&W photo)
(Photo credit : Ho Ah Choon, Sarawak in Pictures - 1940's - 1970's , Sarawak Press Bhd, Kuching)
The Bintulu town centre in 1955 was located close to the river bank. The shophouses were of wooden structure and were wholly owned by the Chinese. The shop owners have individual jetties and small wharves to enable boats and motor launches park close to the town. Typical of the shophouses in the 50's, the posts and joists of the buildings were constructed with 'belian' wood ( Sarawak's hardest timber species). The roofing material were also of 'belian' shingles. The walls were built using sawn planks of lighter tropical hardwood species and only the ground floor was made of concrete. The estimated town population in 1955 was about 2,000 people.

A modern look to Bintulu town image
Date taken : 19 Nov'2010 ( Digital - Sony Cyber-shot)

Today, all the wooden shophouses are gone. They are replaced with permanent reinforced concrete four- storey buildings having concrete floors and walls of bricks. The roofing materials are generally of ceramic tiles or metal roofing sheets. The river bank is pushed further outwards due to reclamation works and the regained spaces allocated for urban amenities like car parks, esplanade and other waterfront development projects. The entire Bintulu population today is estimated at 200,000 people of various ethnic groups with the majority comprising of the Ibans.

SMK to Bintulu town ( 1980's)

Date taken : circa mid 1980's ( Colour photo)
In the 1960's there was a small gravel path road from the Bintulu town that ended at the Bintulu Government Secondary School's (BGSS) junction, seen at left in the picture above. The school is about three miles from Bintulu town. In the early 1970's the road was slightly improved. However it was in the early 1980's that extensive improvement were done that changed the road into a dual carriageway. The school was renamed in Malay as Sekolah Menengah Kerajaan Bintulu (SMK Bintulu)

View from school junction to town today.
Date taken : 14 Jan'11 ( Digital - Sony Cyber-shot)
With the fast tempo of development planned for Bintulu starting in the 1980's, traffic to and from town increased tremendously and so was the number of heavy vehicles on the road. Many amenities were added to the carriageway like proper pedestrian and cycle-path, bus shed,central median lighting with underground cabling and a pedestrian overhead bridge for safety and convenience.. The local authority took the opportunity to plant Angsana trees (Pterocarpus indicus) as shade trees in order to create the green wash and aesthetics to urban roads.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bintulu roads ( Part 3)

View of dual carriageway from SMK Bintulu road junction to R3 ( Roundabout Three)
Date taken : circa early 1980's ( Colour photo)
In the early to mid 1980's, Bintulu roads were upgraded into dual carriageways. The construction of the roads were done by the JKR ( Jabatan Kerja Raya) or the Public works Department. In the above picture, the dual carriageway is provided with central two-arm street lighting posts with underground cabling. This underground cabling was considered a modern feature and was effective for intensive beautification or landscaping works because it allowed trees to grow upwards without being obstructed by overhead cables. The central median is planted with low shrubbery shaped in ornamental form ( topiary). On both sides of the road shoulders, Angsana trees ( Pterocarpus indicus) are planted from stumps to achieve an instant planting result. Towards the right of the picture is shown partly the sign bearing the name 'Sekolah Menengah Kerajaan Bintulu' or SMK ( Bintulu Government Secondary School). The school is about three miles from Bintulu town centre.

Date taken : 14 Jan'11 ( Digital Sony-Cybershot)
The tall building at the centre of the picture was completed in 2010. The building called 'Wisma Forego' belonged to a subsidiary of the Bintulu Development Authority ( BDA). This building is part of a major commercial and shophousing project undertaken by the BDA and other private developers on previously state land situated on the left of the carriageway towards the newly completed traffic lights junction ( replacing the Roundabout Three).

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Roundabout 3 - 1984

Date taken : 1984 ( Colour photo)
In the early 1980's when Bintulu was beginning to open up its hinterland, there was a need to disperse traffic coming in and out of town in an orderly fashion. This roundabout was called R 3 ( Roundabout 3) and is about three miles from the Bintulu town. Looking straight to the far background is the Bintulu - Miri highway. The road towards the left of the picture leads to Tanjung Kidurong, a new satellite township provided with modern facilities, a new deep-water port and a new heavy industrialised zone area to cater for oil and gas business. The picture also shows a worker in the process of planting the roundabout with cow grass ( Axonopus compressus) which became the standard turf for the landscaping of Bintulu roundabouts, traffic islands, road medians and road shoulders. Note the permanent structure on the top right of the picture. This building was and still is today the Headquarters of the Police Department in Bintulu.

Date taken : 1 Jan'11 ( Digital - Sony Cyber-shot)
Today, Bintulu boasts of a city image with over-sized advertising board. The board stands right in the midst of a traffic island of a traffic junction nearby that replaces the old roundabout after having lived its useful life. But alas, the CELCOM advertising board appears alien amidst Bintulu's greenery and clean image.