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KUCHING, Oct 3: More than 1,000 residents from 173 households in five longhouses in Belaga, Kapit now have access to free 24-hour renewable energy under Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (Sares).
Sares, which is funded by the Sarawak government through the Ministry of Utilities Sarawak and implemented by Sarawak Energy, has now lighted up more than 3,100 households from 142 villages in the Kapit division since its introduction in 2016.
At a ceremony held at Dewan Kampung Melayu in Belaga to commemorate the completion and commissioning of the solar-powered systems and handover to the beneficiary communities, Assistant Minister for Utilities (Rural Electricity) Datuk Liwan Lagang officiated on behalf of Minister for Utilities Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom.
Liwan emphasised that the Ministry of Utilities and Sarawak Energy will continue to work closely to expedite efforts to provide the same access to electricity to kampung folk that town people have, improving their standard and quality of life.
“Sares is designed to be sustainable in the long term and involves the community from the planning through to the implementation phase.
“The Sares team from Sarawak Energy will continue to provide technical support and training to the beneficiary communities on basic operations and maintenance to keep the systems running smoothly,” he said.
Liwan also congratulated the beneficiary communities from Uma Penan, Long Lidem; Uma Penan, Long Abit; Uma Penan, Long Tanyit; Naha Jalei, Long Kabuho; and Uma Punan, Punan Sama and reminded them to take care of the solar-powered systems as well as to exercise care when using their electrical appliances and ensuring the internal wiring in their homes are safely connected.
Overall, the innovative government-community initiative has provided almost 8,000 households in more than 270 villages in the most remote areas of Sarawak with renewable and reliable 24/7 energy.
Many of the settlements in Belaga did not have access to proper road infrastructure due to their location deep in Sarawak’s heartlands, which meant that conventional electrification via the Sarawak State Grid would take a while to reach them.
Sares is a sustainable stop-gap initiative, involving the beneficiary communities from planning to the final implementation stage, to electrify Sarawak’s most remote households.
The Sarawak government aims to light up about 22,360 rural households in the coming years with reliable 24-hour electricity supply by extending the transmission and distribution infrastructure into more rural areas or providing standalone system solutions such as Sares.
Over RM2.37 billion has been allocated from the state government for electrification projects in these two years towards achieving this.
Under various rural electrification initiatives, Sarawak’s rural electricity coverage grew from just 56 per cent in 2009 to 93 per cent at the end of 2019.
The Sares system provides 3,000Wh of renewable electricity per day, sufficient to power up a typical rural household’s basic needs such as lighting, fans, television, small refrigerator and rice cooker which allows the communities to reduce the need to travel to town frequently to buy provisions and diesel for their former generator sets.
Murum assemblyman Kennedy Chukpai Ugon, Sarawak Energy vice president for Rural Electrification Dr Chen Shiun, Pemancha Unak Akah, Temenggong Ajang Sirek and representatives from the Ministry of Utilities, relevant agencies and community leaders were present. — DayakDaily