Alternative electrification scheme lights up 10 longhouses in Tatau

Abdul Rahman (back row, third from right) symbolically handing over the SARES key to one of the community leaders while Sikie (back row, fourth from right) looks on.

BINTULU, August 22: Some 1,200 residents from 10 longhouses in Tatau now have access to reliable and renewable electricity all year round, thanks to the community-based Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme programme (SARES).

This initiative is the combined effort of the Ministry of Utilities, Sarawak Energy Berhad and the community — in this case it involves the 204 families from Rumah Malo, Rumah Sekaya, Rumah Samun, Rumah Kanyan, Rumah Nyuan, Rumah Lasok, Rumah Billy, Rumah Layang, Rumah Sylvester Bunsu and Rumah Sujang in Tatau.

A handing-over ceremony was held in Tatau District Office yesterday to commemorate the completion of the projects and the lighting up of the 10 settlements. Assistant Minister of Electricity Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi officiated at the event with Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Native Laws and Customs) Datuk John Sikie Tayai.

Also present were Ministry of Ultilities’ director (Electricity Supply) Syed Fauzi Shahab and Sarawak Energy’s Bintulu regional manager Yong Hua Keh.

Abdul Rahman (standing, centre) and Sikie Tayai (standing, eighth from left) pose for a photograph with the community leaders from the 10 longhouses.

Overall, the RM500mil SARES programme aims to electrify 8,700 households by 2020 in remote areas such as Ulu Skrang, Katibas, Nanga Merit, Bukit Mabong, Tinjar, Long Bedian, Telang Usan, Bario, Julau, Tatau, Sungai Gaat, Sungai Pila and Medamit. Each project involves the construction of standalone alternative systems utilising micro-hydro or solar technologies.

Since its launch in 2016, 2,600 households in 106 villages previously powered by diesel-fuelled generators now have their basic household electricity needs with lighting, fans, a television, a freezer and a cooker met through SARES.

One notable benefit of SARES is that the communities take ownership of the systems and do not have to pay for the electricity that they consume and are no longer wholly dependent on diesel.

SARES is, in fact, part of an integrated Rural Electrification Master Plan that was formulated in 2015 to electrify about 30,000 rural households in the state, with the objective of propelling Sarawak towards achieving full electrification by 2025. Rural electrification in Malaysia began to accelerate in 2009 when it was made a National Key Result Area (NKRA) by the federal government.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Energy Group chief executive officer Sharbini Suhaili attributed the success of SARES to the cooperation of everyone involved, especially the communities and the power utility’s SARES team.

“Apart from ensuring that the projects are completed and implemented, they (SARES team) provide continuous technical support while providing training to our most remote local communities to ensure the sustainability of the SARES systems,” he said in a statement. — DayakDaily