Premier: Sarawak to turn low-lying areas into reclaimed land for more housing

Abang Johari presents the land title and compensation grant to a recipient while others look on during the event. Photo: Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas)

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By Nur Ashikin Louis

KUCHING, Aug 27: Sarawak is looking into turning low-lying areas into reclaimed land to open up more areas for housing, says Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said he had instructed experts to conduct a study on the matter, hinting that land reclamation is possible.

“For example, we can dredge the sediment (to form) reclaimed area, and with (improved) good water level by the engineers, we can construct canal system that will retain water so that the place will not be a flood-prone area. This is similar to the Samariang area.

“Now the Land and Survey Department (JTS) will conduct a study on these low-lying and water areas, not only in Kuching but also in Sibu,” he told reporters during the handing over ceremony of house keys, land titles, and compensation grants to Darul Hana house owners and officiating Surau Block 1A of Darul Hana held at the site here today.

The Darul Hana housing development is part of the Sarawak government’s urban renewal programme through the Ministry of Urban Development and Natural Resources (MUDeNR), involving 12 villages in the Seberang Hilir area, including Jalan Demak and Jalan Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Haji Muhammad Salahuddin (Toll road).

The first phase of relocation involved 337 heads of household (KIR) from Kampung Semarang, Kampung Panglima Seman Lama, and Lot Tambahan. A total of 454 registered landowners also received compensation checks.

Meanwhile, the surau for Block 1A worth RM4.28 million was built to enable villagers to access religious activities and prayers. The surau can accommodate 460 worshippers.

At the same time, extended families of those relocating from the Seberang Hilir villages to the Darul Hana housing area will also be provided with houses in the Sungai Bedaun area near the Santubong River.

Abang Johari further said that there is a similar housing project in Kemuyang, Sibu, where the construction of several more blocks and facilities such as surau and mosques are still ongoing.

“This Kemuyang area will be built with roads up to Kampung Nangka where both areas are undergoing and will undergo village expansion projects,” he added.

He also mentioned that village expansion projects are and will be taking place in other places such as Kabong, Jepak in Bintulu and coastal areas like Sebuyau new township in Samarahan and Kpg Tambirat in Kota Samarahan.

“What we do now is that we will ‘tembok’ (fill) the new areas and supply utilities, including roads and drainage. The Sarawak government will bear all these costs.

“Previously, this infrastructure cost will be around RM150,000 per lot, and the house will be about RM100,000. This means the total would be RM250,000.

“But now the government will bear that infrastructure cost, and the house buyer will only have to pay RM100,000 for assets worth RM250,000,” he elaborated.

Additionally, the State government has introduced a Housing Deposit Assistance Scheme which provides cash assistance up to RM10,000 to B40 and M40 home buyers for payment of housing deposits.

The B40 group could also take up housing loans from financing facility Mutiara Mortgage and Credit Sdn Bhd with an interest of only one per cent.

Following this, Abang Johari also revealed that the Federal Minister of Housing and Local Government was curious about the State government’s housing development plans.

“The Federal government wants to learn from us. I told the Federal Minister of Housing that the (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) is the only government that intends to assist B40 and rural communities with high-value assets.

“That is the way for us to create wealth for the people in rural areas,” he emphasised. — DayakDaily