State govt urged to set up mobile banking facilities to enable Bakun residents claim financial aid

Umie Liau

SIBU, April 27: Sibu Kenyah Uma Baha Women’s Association is appealing to the state government to set up mobile banking services to enable rural residents in the vicinity of the Bakun hydropower dam claim financial aid from both state and federal governments in relation to the Movement Control Order (MCO) period.

Its chairwoman, Umie Liau asserted today that such a facility will help locals save time and travelling costs as well as ease the financial burden of low income groups.

Umie who is a resident of Sungai Asap emphasised rural residents need a more convenient avenue to claim the money and suggested that the state government establish an alternative mechanism such as mobile banking services where financial aid vouchers can be sent to rural recipients either at their respective longhouse or at a selected longhouse near them.

She also suggested that the state government collaborate with supermarkets in urban areas by selling daily necessities to rural folks on the same day they claim financial aid vouchers.

“I believe this alternative mechanism could be implemented by the state government not only during this MCO period but also in the long run as Sungai Asap has yet to have an ATM machine for people to draw money,” she added.

Umie noted that currently, the residents of Long Urun, Long Peran, Data Kakus and Sg Asap Resettlement Scheme have to travel three hours by timber tracks to Belaga to claim the financial aid.

“Traveling along this earthen road is also very dangerous especially when it is wet after a heavy downpour. It is even more challenging for the elderly folks,” she disclosed, adding that on rainy days, travelling on the muddy tracks from Sg Asap to Belaga can easily take up to four hours.

Umie also highlighted the high travelling expenses which locals currently have to fork out for in order to travel to facilities to claim the financial assistance.

“As an example, if the first payment of financial assistance is RM500, a recipient from any of these aforesaid areas will have to pay RM150 for a two-way journey from his longhouse to Belaga. He might want to stay overnight in Belaga due to the far distance and this will incur him another RM150 for food and accommodation. He will end up with only RM200 left,” she explained.

She also noted that With RM200, the recipient would be unable to purchase many items as the price of goods in Belaga are higher than elsewhere due to high transportation costs. — DayakDaily