Dr Rundi: State govt aims to fully electrify Sarawak by 2025 as land disputes hinder progress

Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom. Photo credit: Ukas

KUCHING, Nov 20: The Sarawak government, through the Ministry of Utilities Sarawak and its implementing agency Sarawak Energy, aims to fully electrify Sarawak by 2025.

Minister for Utilities Sarawak Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, in a statement today, said Sarawak is on track to achieve almost 99 per cent overall electrification for the State, and 96 per cent rural electrification coverage by this year, while the urban areas have full electricity coverage.

According to him, of the remaining 4 per cent of unelectrified rural areas, significant delays are being experienced in rural electrification projects in about 2 per cent of the areas.

He explained that these delays are due to a variety of factors with the main challenge being way leave or access issues caused by village land disputes, grievances between neighbouring villages, overlapping claims and access by plantation operators to the rural electrification team.

“In several areas including Bukit Limau highlighted in a recent video, poles erected along roads and nearby longhouses and villages ready for stringing and energisation were subsequently halted temporarily as new way leave disputes arose, thus delaying the completion and energization of the lines.

“Areas across Sarawak way leave issues causing delayed completion of electrification projects include villages in Sri Aman, Saratok, Song, Kanowit and rural Bintulu area including Sebauh and Tatau, outer parts of Miri including Bakong, Tinjar and Baram as well as parts of Mukah.

“As a result, rural communities in these affected areas are denied access to reliable 24-hour electricity,” he said.

Dr Rundi noted these way leave and land dispute challenges continue to impede the speedy progress of electrification in Sarawak. The Ministry together with relevant agencies such as Land and Survey Departments, Public Works Department (JKR), Resident and District offices are continuously engaging with communities and stakeholders to resolve these way leaves issues.

“The successful implementation of electrifying Sarawak especially in rural communities requires collaboration and cooperation between all stakeholders, which include landowners,” he added.

At the same time, urging all parties to work together for a brighter future for Sarawak, Dr. Rundi also calls on landowners, and villagers to work together with the Ministry and Sarawak Energy on solutions to resolve land access matters so that no Sarawakian would be left in the dark.

He emphasised that while line routes are identified and mapped taking into consideration the shortest practical distance and accessibility, cooperation from plantation companies and villages are a crucial factor in the speed of implementation of rural electrification efforts, with electricity grid and supply lines crossing their land as these are extended to the outer limits of Sarawak’s countryside.

He also pointed out that permission to enter lands where the network of supply lines will cross or trimming of trees for electrical lines is crucial for the smooth implementation and reliable operation of rural electrification projects.

“With access to reliable grid power supply, Sarawak’s rural communities will enjoy greater convenience and opportunities for a better standard of living,” he said. — DayakDaily