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KUCHING, Oct 1: Sarawak Energy Bhd’s (SEB) representatives met with the community leaders representing 15 villages of the Bakun Resettlement Scheme (BRS) recently to update stakeholders as well as the Belaga District Office on the ongoing five-year “Longhouse Adoption Programme and Land Levelling works for BRS”, introduced in 2019.
SEB in a statement said the company was represented by its Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability general manager, Jiwari Abdullah together with Community Relations manager Augustine Supen Taja, and Bakun Hydropower Electric Project (HEP) station manager Jonny Wong Kwei Ji.
Jiwari said, “The meeting was held to provide an avenue for feedback, exchange of ideas and share timely updates on the ongoing programmes in Bakun as well as to chart our way forward in building a successful and beneficial partnership.
“We work with the communities to identify priority projects.
“The proposed projects are either undertaken by the village development committee members JKKK themselves under gotong-royong basis or awarded to local contractors,” Jiwari said.
He described the progress meeting session with the community leaders as a fruitful engagement and dialogue.
Meanwhile, SEB said Balui Lake Native Association deputy-chairman Pemanca Umek Jeno as well as community leaders and JKKK from a few longhouses namely Uma Lesong, Uma Badeng, Uma Bawang and Uma Kulit were present at the briefing session.
Umek said, “The land levelling works are necessary because we are a growing community, and we need to expand our longhouses to cater for new families, providing space for the new generation of Bakun resettled families to build their homes.
“We look forward to working with SEB in collaborations that will elevate the local economy and our ability to participate in business opportunities through entrepreneurial workshops in the future,” he said.
The state utility provider said among those present at the progress meeting session were Belaga District Officer Juan Ubit and Sungai Asap Sub-District State Administrative Officer Kuba Lusat.
SEB added a site visit was conducted to a few longhouses namely Uma Bawang, Uma Lesong, and Uma Badeng after the progress meeting to inspect the on-going projects for 2020 as well as the completed projects under the Longhouse Adoption Programme flagship in 2019 for Uma Ukit, Uma Lahanan and Uma Penan Talun.
The power utility provider said site visits were also made to Uma Ukit, Uma Kulit, Uma Badeng and Uma Bawang longhouses to inspect the completed land levelling works for 2019 and the ongoing works for 2020.
SEB added all the proposed projects under the Longhouse Adoption Programme for 2020 are on schedule and expected to be completed by October 2020.
In 2019, the power utility provider said land levelling works were completed for Uma Ukit and the Local Centre 2 Cemetery Sg Koyan, which was extended to Uma Bawang, Uma Badeng and Uma Kulit in 2020.
SEB added the BRS, which is located about two hours drive away from Bintulu, is home to a growing community of over 15,000 residents with local primary and secondary schools, a clinic, sports and recreational facilities as well as shops and a fresh produce market.
SEB explained that the 15 longhouses were adopted on a rotation basis to streamline efforts in improving support to the individual longhouses over the five years of the programme.
The company asserted that each longhouse decides on a focus area on improving the longhouse environment including beautification on a gotong-royong basis as well as improving basic facilities and infrastructure; supporting cultural activities for heritage preservation as well as community development programmes and entrepreneurial activities.
SEB said the first batch involving three longhouses in 2019 were Uma Ukit (650 residents, 79 households), Uma Lahanan (800 residents, 101 households) and Uma Penan Talun (300 residents, 94 households).
In 2020, the state utility provider said almost 4,000 residents from Uma Lesong, Uma Badeng and Uma Bawang longhouses are expected to benefit from several projects under the longhouse adoption programme including the upgrading of multipurpose halls, JKKK office, parking lots, sports pavilions, pathways, as well as the construction of a new security office.
SEB explained that 15 villages were relocated in 1998 to make way for the development of South East Asia’s largest hydropower project, the Bakun HEP at the time.
The state utility provider said the HEP was commissioned and began selling power to SEB in 2011.
SEB added it purchased the Bakun Hydropower Plant from Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance in 2017 for RM2.7billion to synergise power production as the owner and operator of Sarawak’s major energy generation assets.
Since then, SEB said it has introduced new social investment initiatives in partnership with the BRS communities as part of its commitment to corporate social responsibility. — DayakDaily