Calling for entries for Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari

Belayong (seated fourth right) posing for a group photo with organising committee members after the meeting.

Belayong (seated fourth right) posing for a group photo with organising committee members after the meeting.

KAPIT: The organising committee for this year’s Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari is calling for entries for the two-day raft race which will be held on April 1 and 2.

Chairing the committee meeting held in the conference room of the State Office Complex at Jalan Bleteh here recently, Kapit Resident, Joseph Belayong Punan who is also the organising chairman, told the press that participants from both local and outside teams are invited to take part in the competition.

“The entry forms are available from Kapit Resident Office. We will distribute the entry forms to all the ministries and resident offices in the state with effect from Monday, Feb 20 as we want more participation this year,” he said.

He disclosed that the rafting competition has five main categories: Men’s Bamboo Open, Men’s Bamboo Closed (Inter-Department), Women’s Bamboo Open, Free Style and Paddle Boat—the last two categories are open to both men and women. The paddle event is to remind the people of the importance of water transport in earlier days which until today, remains the main mode of transport here in the absence of a road network.

The first flag-off point for this year’s Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari is at Rumah Ansi, Nanga Sepajie at Sungai Majau, a tributary of Mujong River.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing is expected to officiate at the first flag-off.

The trip from Rumah Ansi to Kapit is estimated to take about 6–7 hours, along the Rajang River, Baleh River, Sungai Mujong and Sungai Majau. The rafters will be able to enjoy the pristine clear water of Sungai Majau while at the same time take in scenic views of Iban longhouses along the river. Rumah Ansi comprises some 29 families.

Belayong cautioned rafters that Sungai Majau has numerous boulders and rocks across the river that pose a danger to river users.

“However this is good as this will make the rafting competition more challenging” he said.

Meanwhile, the second flag-off point for the race is at Rumah Along at Nanga Majau which has some 18 families. Deputy Minister of Rural and Regional Development, Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi is expected to officiate at this flag-off.

This year marks the 22nd edition of the annual international rafting competition since it was introduced in 1996.

Apart from the rafting competition, the organising committee has also slotted in the Kapit Powerboat Competition to be held on April 1–2 at the Kapit riverfront.

A new event in the form of the Mountain Bike challenge has been added. It will start from the Katibas Bridge in Song district passing through the partially completed Kapit/Song road and end at Kapit Town Square.

All mountain bike enthusiasts both locally and outstation are invited to take part in the event.

Also present at the meeting was Deputy Resident Galong Luang, Bukit Mabong District Officer Douglas Pungga, a representative of Kapit District Officer Philomena Asin,  heads and representatives of various government departments, and Village and Security Development Committee (JKKK) members of Rumah Ansi and Rumah Along.

The annual rafting event is a major tourism draw in Kapit, held along tributaries of Baleh River and with Kapit Passenger Terminal as the finishing point. The three-day rafting event which begins on March 31 with participants travelling to their respective starting points, offers them a rare opportunity to stay overnight to experience the hospitality of the participating Iban longhouses.

The competition is organised by the Kapit Resident Office in collaboration with Kapit Tourism Task Group and various government agencies and selected non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with support from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Sarawak Tourism Board, Ministry of Youth and Sports and Solidarity, and Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board.