PASIR MAS: The dry spell that hit Kelantan in the past two weeks has caused the water level in Sungai Golok to drop to 3.58m, way below its normal level of 5m.A check by Bernama in Rantau Panjang found that sandbanks could be seen in the middle of Sun­gai Golok which posed challenges to boat operators ferrying passengers from both sides of the river.In Kampung Jeram Perdah near here, the dry spell turned the river into a “ditch” with only a 4m distance between Malaysia and Thai­land.As a result, residents living nearby could cross to the neighbouring country on foot by stepping on the rocks in the riverbed.One of the boat operators, Din Mamat, 50, said they had to be more careful in navigating their boats for fear of hitting timber, sand and rocks in shallow water.He said there were incidents where boats caught in the sand suffered engine damage.

“However, the dry spell also attracted the attention of local residents, especially children from both sides of the river, to bathe in the shallow water in the evening.“If the dry spell continues, I expect there will be another water festival along the river similar to a few years ago when many came to play and picnic and some traders even set up stalls selling stuff,” he said yesterday.A resident of Kampung Jeram Perdah, Ismail Awang, 60, said the dry spell had also caused boat operators’ business to slow as people could now cross the border on foot.“Besides, this area is also known to be the focus of fishing activity but as the water level continues to drop, it may soon pose challenges for the fishermen fishing here,” he said.The Kelantan Department of Irrigation and Drainage’s portal showed that apart from Sungai Go­lok, the water level of Sungai Kelantan in Kusial, Tanah Merah, has dropped to 7.30m, below its normal level of 10m.

The water level of Sungai Kelan­tan in Air Mulih, Pasir Mas, drop­ped to 1.57m compared to its normal level of 4m.However, the water levels in most rivers in Hulu Kelantan including Gua Musang and Kuala Krai are still normal.Kelantan is currently experiencing a dry spell even though it is still in the north-east monsoon period. — Bernama