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MIRI, March 31: One hundred households from three areas in Tutoh Apoh, Baram, namely Long Ukok, Long Patan and Long Pahlo, now have access to round-the-clock electricity.
The RM4.4 million project to benefit the 827 residents was implemented under the Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (Sares).
A ceremony was held at Long Ukok in Marudi today to mark the completion and commissioning of the solar-powered system. It was officiated at by Assistant Minister for Rural Electricity Supply Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi.
Long Ukok resident Ulau Ajon, 70, remarked that she could now wash clothes by using a washing machine. Previously, she had to do it manually.
Now, the residents would have more money for other things as before Sares came into being, each ‘bilek’ had to spend quite a bit of money to buy diesel for the generator to light up the 37-door longhouse, she disclosed.
Long Ukok village chief Christoper Pusu, 79, commented that Sares had brought “light” to his people, which numbers about 400.
“What we need now is good road access connecting this area to the nearest town — Marudi. This will be good for our local economy,” he said.
For Joseph Sanong, 70, road connectivity is crucial as it would cut travelling time substantially. Long Ukok is located about a five-hour drive from Miri.
In Miri Division, Sares has already powered up 50 remote communities of some 2,300 households. This comprises 28 villages in Telang Usan, seven in Long Lama, nine in Beluru and six in Marudi.
By next year, about 120 remote communities in Miri will have access to 24-hour reliable and renewable electricity supply under Sares.
Sares is an innovative government-community partnership model utilising renewable off-grid solutions to light up the state’s most remote communities. It is funded by the Sarawak government via the Ministry of Utilities and is implemented by Sarawak Energy Berhad.
Sares is expected to electrify about 15,600 households in remote villages by 2021 with either solar or micro-hydro solutions. Launched in 2016, the RM830 million programme has accelerated electricity coverage in Sarawak and has lighted up almost 5,000 of the 15,600 households.
“The accelerated Rural Electrification Masterplan aims to expedite full electricity coverage for Sarawak by 2025 through a mix of strategies. This includes expanding the grid by extending transmission and distribution infrastructure as well as lighting up remote communities through off-grid solutions,” said Dr Abdul Rahman.
“An allocation of RM2.37 billion has been approved for 2019-2020 to accelerate rural electrification coverage to 97 per cent by 2020, leading towards full electrification by 2025.”
Also present at the ceremony were Deputy Speaker Dato Gerawat Gala, Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau, Ministry of Utilities’ Electricity Supply director Syed Fauzi Shahab and Sarawak Energy vice-president (Rural Electrification) Dr Chen Shiun. — DayakDaily