Sarawak govt approves RM50 mln to connect 128 schools to electricity grid

Datuk Amar Michael Manyin Jawong

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Nov 12: Sarawak government has approved RM50 million to connect 128 schools without electricity supply to the power grid.

Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong said the 128 schools were identified by the state Education Department out of 369 schools without electricity supply.

A Cabinet paper seeking RM50 million allocation for the purpose was submitted last year, he added.

“The state Cabinet has approved that the (RM50 million) allocation be used to connect the (identified) schools directly to the power grid,” he told a press conference on the side of the Sarawak legislative Assembly sitting (DUN) here today.

Manyin said this when asked about the development of the solar diesel hybrid project for schools in Sarawak after the contractor awarded the project, Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd, filed a RM7.83 billion suit against the Education Ministry for its wrongful termination attempt.

“What we know is that the solar project started in 2014 to 2016 and there were 31 contractors at that time. But from 2017 to 2019, the projects were awarded to only one contractor involving RM1.29 billion.

“As for the details of the contract, it is between the Ministry of Education and the company,” he said without elaborating on the details.

According to media reports, QEOS Group and Jepak Holdings chief executive officer Dr Gabriel Walter had filed the writ of summons on Nov 1 in the Sarawak High Court.

The report added that the court had on Nov 6, delivered an interim ex-parte injunction to prevent the ministry from using any of the project’s data or design improvements without permission and had set the inter partes hearing on Nov 20.

Jepak Holdings was awarded a three-year contract to supply power to 369 rural schools in Sarawak worth RM1.2 billion but the Pakatan Harapan government has attempted to terminate the project. The project commenced in January 2017.

The company is linked to a corruption case involving Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, the wife of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. The trial is ongoing.

Gabriel had taken over from the previous shareholders of Jepak this past May in hope that having a new shareholder company, with over 50 patents in its portfolio, would help him overcome the allegations surrounding the direct negotiated contract in late 2016.

Manyin said that another RM9 million has been approved by the state government to connect schools in rural areas with treated water supply.

“As of today, can you believe that there are 428 schools in Sarawak do not have treated water supply? They get their sources either through rain harvest, from the rivers or wells provided by Geoscience (Mineral and Geoscience Department),” he added. — DayakDaily