Sarawak Energy rushes to help Uma Bakung fire victims

Sarawak Energy’s CSR and community relations staff Alis Ekan (second from left) handing over the goods to Uma Bakong village head Martha Bilong (second from right), and assisting her is Florida Havit (right).

KUCHING, Nov 22: Victims of Monday’s longhouse fire at Uma Bakung in Belaga received aid and assistance from Sarawak Energy Berhad in the immediate aftermath of the blaze, which engulfed 30 ‘bileks’ (units) of the 40-unit longhouse.

About 340 residents were affected when their homes were destroyed in the morning fire, following which Sarawak Energy immediately mobilised assistance in the form of food and clothing. The victims are currently putting up at the church or with their relatives.

Uma Bakung is about 20km away from the Sungai Asap Bakun Resettlement Scheme on the main road leading to Bakun HEP. It was established when the hydropower project opened up infrastructure and road development into the area.

“While Uma Bakung is not part of the 15 communities directly affected by the hydropower project, we believe in being a good neighbour to communities near our major installations and operations.

“One way of doing this is to provide assistance for the relief of distress, especially in times of need such as during fires or floods. Sarawak Energy came to the aid of fire victims at Uma Kulit in 2013 and Uma Badeng in 2017,” said the general manager (Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability) Jiwari Abdullah in a statement yesterday.

“We will continue to work with and assess the longer-term needs of our neighbouring communities, especially in mitigating the risks of longhouse fires. We will work together with the Welfare Department, Belaga District Office, community leaders and the Sungai Asap Fire Fighters Volunteers Association on.”

Sarawak Energy has sponsored a fully equipped fire-fighting vehicle this month to replace the older vehicle for the Sungai Asap Fire Fighter Volunteers Association.

The corporation, which operates the Bakun Hydroelectric Plant and Murum Hydroelectric Plants, has worked with the communities in the resettlement areas to mitigate fire incidents.

Sarawak Energy staff distributing the items at the collection centre at Uma Bakung.

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 Bakun Resettlement Area. The corporation also provides training for the association members as well as contributed fire extinguishers and firefighting equipment to the communities.

The Sungai Asap Fire Fighter Volunteers Association members were at the scene on Monday to help with putting out the fire and eventually cared for the victims’ well-being.

Executive vice-president for Corporate Services, Aisah Eden, said Sarawak Energy was committed to carrying out its business responsibly with the community at heart and aimed at improving their socio-economic well-being.

“We will continue to work closely with the community to provide the necessary assistance for the betterment of the community,” assured Aisah.

The corporation also supports community development initiatives that includes land levelling for the extension of longhouses at Sg Asap resettlement, cultural preservation and social investment programmes such as Do Ledoh and Ladong Bio harvest festivals, which are significant events for the Kayan and Kenyah communities, as well as substantial support for educational development through the adoption of SMK Bakun.

Other forms of support extended include educational enhancement programmes for schools in Belaga, in partnership with Pusat Aktiviti Kanak Kanak (PAKK) Uma Daro and Penan Talun, for improvement of childcare facilities at Sg Asap and educational visits for Belaga youths to higher learning institutions under the ‘Jom Masuk U Programme’

In addition, Sarawak Energy is set to provide annual funding to Bakun Charitable Trust for the educational and skills training development for Sg Asap community in early 2019. — DayakDaily