Friday, December 13, 2013

Bintulu town during the first boom (1979 -83)


 Bintulu was a sleepy fishing village and small town when  I grew up there in my teenage years. It was known mainly for its jungle products (rattan, damar etc.), sago, timber logs and sawn mangrove timber species (ramin), and the ever popular 'belacan' or shrimp paste.  The main town centre was located on the right bank of the Kemena river  as it reaches the South China Sea.  It enjoyed fresh sea breezes and wonderful views of the sunset. It has an airfield built in 1938 and was optimally used in the 60's right on till the 90's  before it was abandoned for a new airport in 2003.  The Malay and Melanau kampungs that surrounded the town area have tall coconut and betel nut trees over-topping the villages.  All these makes Bintulu a quaint, quiet and rustic place of the pre- boom years.
Bintulu town of the 50's -60's
Picture credit : Ho Ah Choon,Sarawak in Pictures - 1940's - 70's, Sarawak Press Bhd, Kuching.

Bintulu town centre - shows much development around the town area during the first boom years (1979 -1983)
Note the newly constructed commercial buildings mushrooming .
The hospital is seen at the bottom right of the picture.  In the 1980's the airport served well the growing needs of travel to and out of Bintulu expected of a booming town.
Picture credit : Peter Chay, Malaysia - Wonders and Contrasts, Foto Technik Sdn Bhd, Kuala Lumpur, 1986.

The sleepy image of Bintulu town gradually gave way to a bustling town with the discovery of natural gas and the development of the Bintulu deep water port at Kidurong, some 20 km away north from the town.  The town was slowly being provided with better urban facilities and amenities through the re-development of many of the readily available state land around town. For example the location of the BDA-Shahida commercial area (shown at the middle of the picture above) was previously the government offices and quarters area and only public football field site.  It is worthwhile to note too that due to the pressing needs of urban space, many kampungs located closer to the town were removed to make way for shophouses e.g Kampung Dagang later became Kampung Dagang Commercial Centre (shown as newly constructed commercial shophouses at top of the picture, fronting the river)