Their smiles and glowing eyes tell a thousand words when these village folks speak about their newly repaired longhouse.
For those who live below the poverty line or come from low-income groups – many who are farmers or workers earning minimum wage – they are unable to repair or rebuild their homes on their own.
With financial assistance from Sarawak government-funded Program Penambahbaikan Rumah Rakyat Miskin Sarawak (PPRMS), those who live in dilapidated conditions can live in safe and comfortable housing.
For the villagers from Rh Ngipa, Sg Buloh; Rh Buan Jawong and Rh Ujit Lenggoh from Sg Rayah in Bintangor, it is something they will never stop being thankful for.
They were among the many recipients under PPRMS, which helped the longhouses in these rural constituencies repair their homes from floor to ceiling.
Receiving aid to build their homes
Housewife Lia William, 50, from Rh Ngipa was so happy she could not stop smiling.
“I am very grateful for the concern shown by the state government for the welfare of my family. We have lived in this longhouse for more than 20 years but could not afford to repair it,” she told DayakDaily when met recently.
During the visit, longhouse chief Ngipa Andieng, 67, showed DayakDaily the new aluminium spandex roofing which cost about RM22,000.
“The state government, through our Meradong assemblyman Datuk Ding Kuong Hiing, bought all the materials needed. The repair works were done through gotong-royong by our longhouse folks,” he said. The repair work started on Aug 10 and was completed 20 days later.
Ngipa, who has been the longhouse chief since 1998 said the 17-door longhouse was about 29 years old and therefore a lot of repairs were needed.
Grateful that his longhouse was selected under the PPRMS programme, Ngipa was very touched as the repair work had greatly eased the burden on his people.
“These repair works are also important for the safety of my people in this longhouse,” he said.
“The fact that the government gave us a helping hand with this programme shows that it was close to the community and aware of the problems we faced,” he remarked.
Meanwhile, Buan Jawong, 60, who heads the 10-door Rh Buan said the programme was effective in addressing the needs of the poor.
Built in 2002, Rh Buan finally had their ground floor cemented in November last year. Materials worth about RM21,000 were given by the state government and works were done through gotong-royong.
“In the beginning, we wanted to build a double-storey wooden longhouse. Due to financial constraints, we decided to build a one-storey on stilts first. You can see the electricity meters on each pillar on the ground floor.
“Now that the ground floor is cemented, we can slowly build the rest like walls, ceilings and so on,” Buan said.
Over at Rh Ujit, 119 longhouse folks also had their old cement common gathering area, or ruai, replaced with white tiles and zinc roof.
Headed by Ujit Lenggoh, 42, the 17-door longhouse is about 20 years old.
“On behalf of my people in this longhouse, we truly thank the state government for this programme to assist the poor and alleviate poverty in Sarawak.
“We were given the opportunity to live in a comfortable environment including access to electricity, clean water and road access. Sarawakians are fortunate the state government is always concerned and pursues various development programmes, including efforts to help the needy people,” he said.
Ujit asserted that such a project had also promoted the spirit of caring and sharing, reviving the gradually dying spirit of ‘gotong-royong’ among the rural community.
As all the longhouse folks sit together at the ruai and have tea, Bangi Seriang, 59, Jenggul Jambai, 50, and Jini Ambah, 47, express their hopes that the PPRMS programme would be continued as it was very much needed.
“We welcome this programme because there are many others out there who need it and will appreciate what the state government has done in terms of our welfare,” they said.
Helping the community build and repair their homes
PPRMS was introduced by the Sarawak government in 2018 following the drastic cut in federal funds for Program Perumahan Rakyat Termiskin – PPRT, a similar programme which was previously undertaken by the former BN government before it lost the 14th general election to Pakatan Harapan.
Aimed at assisting the needy group who require assistance for repairs of their dilapidated houses, each Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) assemblyman and member of parliament is allocated RM1 million annually to carry out this programme.
Those registered under e-Kasih and households in the Bottom 40 (B40) group are eligible. Selection of houses to be repaired is based on the urgency of the repairs required.
Meanwhile, in an effort to help Sarawakians own a house, the state government has also come up with Skim Perumahan Khas Rakyat (Spektra) Permata, an affordable housing program for the middle income and B40 group.
The Ministry of Local Government and Housing Sarawak through Housing Development Corporation (HDC) is currently constructing 2,500 affordable houses using the industrialised building system (IBS).
The built-up area for each house to be built is between 700 and 820 square feet and selling price range is from RM90,000 to RM160,000.
The type of house varies from single storey terrace to single storey detached houses on stilts.
These units will be sold to eligible buyers with household incomes between RM1,500 to RM6,000 per month and Mutiara Mortgage & Credit Sdn Bhd will provide end financing facilities.
The locations of the projects are spread throughout Sarawak.
Current ongoing projects under construction are Darul Hana (564), Bunga Rampai (122) and Tabuan Melayu/Foochow (238) in Kuching, Kemuyang (110) and Kpg Datu (3) in Sibu, Lundu (26), Sematan (25), Igan (22) in Mukah, Tian (20) in Matu, Rangau (128) in Limbang, Kapit (76), Lingga (10) and Majelin (20) in Miri.
Seven projects in the pipeline are Selipar Putus Tabuan Melayu (200) and Kampung Salak (264) in Kuching, Permyjaya (278) in Miri, Lundu (240), Kanowit (98), Sibuloh (164) in Bau and Spaoh (162) in Betong. —DayakDaily