SARIKEI, March 9: Over 750 residents from five remote longhouses in Ulu Entabai, Pakan, are now enjoying 24-hour electricity, thanks to the Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (Sares).
Minister of Utilities Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom said the government had always recognised that everyone has a basic right to 24-hour reliable electricity supply despite the state being a vast region with a sparse population in the interior.
“It just requires us to be innovative in our methods, and Sares was developed as an out-of-the-box solution to ensure we can extend reliable electricity supply to our most remote households.
“Sares is an innovative strategy targeted at Sarawak’s most remote communities using renewable off-grid solutions. It is one of several initiatives under the Accelerated Rural Electrification Master Plan,” he said at a ceremony to commemorate the completion of the projects and the lighting up of the five villages, which have a total of 110 households, at Rumah Sang, Rantau Chire, here yesterday.
Present were Assistant Minister for Utilities (Rural Electrification) Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi, Meluan assemblyman Rolland Duat Jubin, director of Electricity Supply in the Ministry of Utilities, Syed Fauzi Shahab, and Sarawak Energy vice president (Rural Electrification) Dr Chen Shiun.
In a statement, Sarawak Energy said Dr Rundi told those present that the Sares project was funded by the state government and was implemented by Sarawak Energy.
He said the state government was intensifying efforts to increase rural coverage to 97 per cent by the end of next year. An allocation of RM2.37 billion has been approved for 2019-2020.
Sares is expected to electrify 8,700 households in remote villages by 2020 with either solar or micro-hydro solutions. Once set up by Sarawak Energy, the system is handed over to the community who operates and maintains it with technical support from the corporation.
Launched in 2016, the RM500 million programme has accelerated electricity coverage in Sarawak and has completed projects for almost 4,000 of the 8,700 households.
Each Sares project involves the construction of standalone alternative systems utilising solar technologies to meet basic household electricity needs like lightings, fans, a television, a freezer and a cooker. This replaces noisy and expensive diesel generator sets.
Meanwhile, Sarawak Energy Group chief executive officer Datu Sharbini Suhaili commented that the communities and their partnerships with Sarawak Energy were crucial in ensuring the success of Sares projects.
Chen chipped in and said that after the implementation, their team would continue to provide technical support and train the beneficiary communities to operate and maintain the system.
“Nevertheless, if any major work is required, our team is ready to be deployed to handle the issue and to ensure reliable supply to the residents,” said Chen. — DayakDaily