TANJONG KARANG: After struggling to keep his “school boat” business afloat since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, boatman Ng Hock Heng is finally filled with hope.
The 57-year-old, who transports students from Kampung Sungai Kajang to their respective schools across Sungai Tengi, is back in business.
“Schools have reopened and my students are back.
“Yesterday, I transported 14 pupils who are in Years One, Two and Three, as well as kindergarden (pupils), across the river,” said Ng, who charges each student a fee of RM30 a month.
Schools are open this week to lower primary children (Years One, Two and Three), as well as Forms Three and Four students in secondary schools in the Klang Valley and Melaka.
Next week will see pupils from Years Four, Five and Six, as well as those from Remove classes, Forms One and Two, head back to school.
Ng, who also lives at Kampung Sungai Kajang, said it was a huge struggle for him when schools were shut down as he had no other source of income.
Luckily, his children came to his aid and he was able to meet his household expenses.
“Three of my five children gave me RM200 each, and that helped me a great deal,” said Ng, who earns about RM650 monthly operating his boat service.
He makes two trips, at 6.30am and 7.30am, to send the children across the river to school, and picks up two groups, at 12.30pm and 1.30pm, for the trip home.
He has nearly 30 students taking his boat on a regular basis.
Kampung Sungai Kajang headman Lim Hock Tiong said the children take the boat to go to school in the neighbouring Kampung Bagan Pasir.
“That is the nearest school to Kampung Sungai Kajang.
“We have about 600 people in our village, but we do not have our own school yet,” he added.
Lim said that his village has put in an application to have their own school, and hopes it will be approved soon.