Sarawak Energy rushes aid to Uma Bawang fire victims

Sarawak Energy Community Relations executive Irwan Borhan (centre) delivering the aid to Uma Bawang headman Ellision Duren. Also seen in the photo are Sungai Asap Fire Fighters Volunteers Association chairman Tirah Lawai (second from left) and Pemanca Umek Jeno (right).

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KUCHING, April 18: Victims of the longhouse fire at Uma Bawang in Belaga received aid from Sarawak Energy in the immediate aftermath of the blaze that engulfed 42 ‘bileks’ of two longhouses and a community church.

A total of 499 residents were affected when their homes were destroyed in the 6pm incident on Monday.

Sarawak Energy immediately mobilised assistance in the form of food and clothing for the victims, who are currently putting up at neighbouring blocks of Uma Bawang and at the nearby kindergarten.

Uma Bawang, comprising five longhouses with 112 house ‘bileks’, is situated about 50km away from the Bakun hydroelectric powerplant (HEP). The longhouse was one of 15 villages that moved to the Bakun Resettlement Area for the hydropower project 20 years ago.

“Sarawak Energy contributed RM21,000 to the victims to assist in their welfare and another RM5,000 each for the community church and the Sungai Asap Fire Fighter Volunteers Association,” its general manager (Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability) Jiwari Abdullah said in a statement yesterday.

Sarawak Energy was among the first to deliver immediate relief aid such as food, clothing and toiletries for the victims, with more assistance delivered the following day.

Sarawak Energy sent in more relief aid to the victims in the aftermath of the fire.

“We will also continue to work with and assess the longer-term needs of our neighbouring communities in mitigating this ever-present longhouse fire risk. We will work together with the Welfare Department, Belaga District Office, community leaders and the Sungai Asap Fire Fighters Volunteers Association on this,” he added.

Sarawak Energy sponsored a fully equipped firefighting vehicle in November 2018 to replace the older vehicle for the Sungai Asap Fire Fighter Volunteers Association. The team was at the scene to help fight the blaze before the official fire brigade arrived from Bintulu.

Since the acquisition of Bakun HEP, Sarawak Energy has worked closely with the Sungai Asap Fire Fighter Volunteers Association on fire safety awareness and prevention programmes for the longhouses in the resettlement area.

The corporation also assisted in training programmes for the association members and had contributed fire extinguishers and firefighting equipment to the communities. — DayakDaily