The last dredge in the Kinta Valley ‘Tanjong Tualang 5’ better referred to as TT.5 has at last found a company that will take care of its future, Menteri Besar Incorporated (MB Inc).
“MB Inc is in the business of mineral development so it is natural that we took over the management of the dredge” said MB Inc CEO Datuk Aminuddin Hashim.
Aminuddin made the announcement during the company’s Hari Raya celebration held at the dredge site 8km from Batu Gajah.
The Dredge is currently being refurbished and is targeted to be opened to the public during the first quarter of Visit Perak Year 2017 (VPY2017)
TT5 a 4,500 tonne dredge had been in service for over forty years before being located at its current site in 1982 during the downturn of the tin industry.
It has languished at its current site ever since with the right front pontoon listed in the shallow moat after years of rusting away with over 60 holes around the dredge 50% of which have been repaired.
Aminuddin said the development was being carried out in three phases. The first is to ‘Save the Dredge followed by ‘Fund the dredge’ and last ‘Experience the dredge’
“The dredge is the main attraction. It needs to be saved and the main concern is to float it.
“It will cost RM4 million to repair and refurbish, seal the pontoon and float the dredge and prepare it to be safely certified as a tourist product.
Next will be the comfort of the visitors and we will install air coolers and fans and paint bright colours so visitors don’t bump their heads.
“The dredge was built to be a factory on water not to accommodate visitors.
When we allow visitors to come aboard our priority is to ensure it is safe”
Visitors to the dredge next year can expect a guided tour on how the dredge functioned.
“We will charge a nominal entrance fee inclusive of the tour. All information presented will focus on the dredge technology.
Aminuddin said the entire site covers 243 hectares but only 24 hectares is being developed currently.
“The development cost is RM30 million inclusive of the dredge refurbishment. Other cost will go towards fencing and landscaping.
“Once completed we will then face an annual cost of RM2 million for maintenance of the dredge and site.
To fund the cost TT5 will be packaged together with nearby tourist spots such as Kellies Castle and Gopeng and Kampar sites as a circuit for visitors.
“These sites average 26,000 visitors each month and TT5 will be another tourist product to complement the tour package.
“Ultimately we want to create an area with a theme of a time gone by similar to what national cartoonist Datuk Lat portrayed in his book Kampung Boy complete with a museum and gallery, a space for events and a resort for the future.
In order to ensure the dredge was refurbished as authentically as possible MB Inc secured the service of Dredge Master Chee Siew Kong.
Chee, 73 is a 2nd generation dredge master following in his father’s footsteps. He had worked with the Tronoh Mines near Kampar since 1964 even after it was acquired by Malaysia Mining Corporation.
He has since worked on 17 dredges in Malaysia, Indonesia and Sierra Leone.
A tour of the dredge at its current stage revealed a cleaned deck with workers painting the sides of the pontoon and railings of the staircases.
According to Chee most of the light and small items such as cables and electrical fitting are missing but the large mechanical apparatus are still intact due it being too large to remove.
The dredge has three decks for its operations.
With its voluminous columns of I-beams and massive sized apparatus a visitor will be able to trace the operations flow of how huge conveyor buckets scored the tin bearing soil then transport its load into the ‘factory’ to filter the gravel and stone leaving the mud containing tin for further processing.
Thankfully with many of the major items of the dredge being intact future visitors will be awed to understand how the dredge had operated then.
If everything goes according to plan TT5 will be the next ‘must visit tourist product’ for visitors to understand what made Ipoh and the Kinta Valley the richest tin producer in the world.