Ministry: Wayleave issues delayed connecting Belaga to state grid

Lightbulb. — file pic. // Photo: Pixabay

KUCHING, Sept 16: Villages downstream of the Bakun hydroelectric power plant will only be connected to the state power grid next year after the completion of the 59km Murum Junction to Belaga covered conductor project.

The Ministry of Utilities said the delay was due to wayleave issues and resistance from some landowners. Construction was only able to commence in April this year, with commissioning now delayed to 2019. It was initially suppose to be completed by the end of this year.

“The delay has deprived the residents of these longhouses of connection to the state grid and access to reliable 24-hour electricity supply,” said the ministry in a statement today.

The statement added that the project, being undertaken by Sarawak Energy Berhad (Sarawak Energy) and costing RM30.5 million, was mainly to connect the Belaga township, which currently gets its electricity supply from a diesel power station.

Upon completion, villages like Kejaman Neh, Kejaman Lasa, Tanjung, Rumah Apan, Uma Nyaving, Rumah Lahanan and Long Mitik would also be connected to the state power grid. It would also be extended to Sekapan near Belaga.

“Wayleave issues are a major challenge to timely completion and smooth implementation of statewide infrastructure development projects. They are generally caused by a minority of land claimants with excessive demands.

“The Ministry of Utilities continues to appeal to claimants to cooperate with its agencies to ensure timely completion of key infrastructure projects so that greater access to utilities for the rakyat is accelerated,” it said.

The ministry said it would continue to work closely with Sarawak Energy and other key agencies to address demands by land claimants and to ensure the timely implementation of these projects for the benefit of the people.

As the state’s primary energy provider, Sarawak Energy has been working under the guidance of the Ministry of Utilities to build generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure to ensure it meets its target of 100 per cent state domestic coverage by 2025.

Meanwhile, the ministry also assured that residents of the remote Punan Biau and Punan Sama communities would also be provided with 24-hour renewable and reliable power by 2019 under the Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (Sares). It would involve the construction of standalone alternative systems utilising micro-hydro or solar technologies. — DayakDaily