Monday, May 25, 2009

Sabahan's Train

TENOM: For about a year now, homemade trolleys that are manually pushed using long poles have become a regular mode of transport for people who live along the railway track here.

Since the state Railway Department suspended its regular train service last May, the number of trolleys, which are made from planks and car or motorcycle wheel bearings, has gone up.

It's illegal, but the department is keeping its eyes closed for now as the trolleys are a lifeline for those at Pangi and Rayoh, the last two stations before the town here.

A 134km railway line runs from Kota Kinabalu to here via Beaufort.

From here to Beaufort, the track stretches 49km with four stations along the scenic Sungai Padas, namely Pangi, Rayoh, Halogilat and Saliwangan Baru.

The trolleys have existed since the early days of the railway service, which started in 1896. Even when the regular train service was operational, trolleys were used by villagers discreetly.

Villager Antawar Mukak said they used to hide their trolleys in bushes to prevent them from being confiscated by the department.

District officer Faimin Kamin said about 500 people who lived along the rail track were directly affected as well as thousands of others involved in the agricultural sector in the district, which has a population of about 60,000.

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