State govt undeterred by challenges in rural electrification efforts

Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom

KAPIT, Oct 6: Rural electrification throughout Sarawak is a very challenging task due to the vastness of the state and the mountainous geographical terrains along with a dispersed population, half being rural based.

Despite the challenges, Minister for Utilities Datuk Seri Stephen Rundi Utom said the state government will continue to work on it, to ensure that all Sarawakians including those in rural areas get 24-hour electricity supply.

“Currently, 92 per cent of rural households have been connected either through grid expansion or off-grid hybrids with electricity coverage in the state.

“The balance of eight per cent or about 26,400 rural households have yet to enjoy 24-hour electricity and our goal for this group of people is to achieve it by 2025,” Rundi said at the Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (Sares) handover ceremony in Rh Nading Sg Gaat, yesterday.

He was represented by Assistant Minister for Utilities (Rural Electricity) Datuk Liwan Lagang, who read out his speech at the event.

Rundi also disclosed the state government has approved the Rural Electrification Master Plan with a special allocation of RM2.37 billion for 2019 and 2020.

This he said, will improve the electricity supplies in rural households from 91 per cent to 97 per cent.

“My ministry will work closely with Sarawak Energy Berhad (Sarawak Energy) to carry out the extension of the rural electricity supply project so that the full electrification target can be achieved through the various strategies planned in the master plan.

“SEB will supply rural electricity through the BELB Grid Distribution and Extension RPSS Grid Delivery for areas with road access. As for the stand-alone system, they will use alternative power sources such as hybrid and Sares for remote and deep interior areas,” he revealed, adding that this is in line with the Sarawak Rural Transformation programme to bridge the gap between urban and rural communities.

Sares has benefited about 4,960 households located in 192 remote villages and longhouses throughout the state. — DayakDaily