Subcontractors rue non payment for service rendered to rural schools

A file photo of a supplier's boat on its way to render supplies to rural schools.

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SIBU, Oct 28: Several subcontractors, genset technicians and fuel transporters in the central region are facing financial hardship as payments for the supply of diesel fuel and maintenance of generating sets for rural schools in Sibu, Mukah, Daro, Dalat and Selangau remained unpaid since April 2019.

They are now appealing to the Ministry of Education (MOE) to look into the matter urgently as more than RM1 million is still unpaid to them for the works.

Four of the affected subcontractors voiced out their predicament at a press conference here today.

One of them, Ambrose Gobel said he has been supplying diesel to schools along the Igan river in Dalat from April 2019- Sept 2019 under a MOE contract. In addition, he has also engaged mechanics to perform preventative maintenance with regular replacement of the lubricants, fuel and oil filter of the gensets.

Ambrose explained that he has incurred considerable expenses to purchase spare parts like charging alternators, radiators, automatic voltage regulator AVR and fuel pumps.

“I have used my capital to purchase diesel on cash terms. There are still overdue invoices from fuel dealers and riverine transporters. But after one and a half years, I have yet to receive any payment. “ Ambrose said.

Meanwhile, James Berenyang who subcontracted genset servicing and repairs for rural schools in Sibu and Selangau is facing a similar situation.

“My suppliers have been pestering me for outstanding debts, and my family is very worried. The Covid 19 with MCO imposed has worsened my financial predicament “ James said.

On his next course of action, James said he intends to bring the matters to the attention of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhhyiddin Yassin, seeking an early settlement.

A similar unfortunate fate also also befallen lorry driver Slyvester Moris and Maslim Zaidan who subcontracted the fuel deliveries in Mukah and Selangau.

“Some of the schools are located in a remote location and the logistics are challenging, especially on rainy days. The terrain is slippery and dangerous to our 4WD. We risk our limbs, but our transport fee is affected by delay at MOE.” Morris sighed.

He called on those responsible for the payment to show some empathy towards them.

“We are going to contact our local assemblyman to air our grievances and God willing, the payment can be expedited before Sarawak State election ‘ added Maslim.

More than 300 rural schools are having their daily electricity supplies by diesel generating sets, usually 2 x 40 KVA while bigger schools are equipped with 4 x 50 KVA.

Supplies of diesel fuel and genset spare parts are often constrained by difficult road access and tedious waterway journey, some taking up 3 days for a round trip. The livelihood of more than 500 people

Those involved in the whole supply chain from subcontractors, fuel suppliers, local sundry store, mechanics, lorry transporters and genset operators are adversely affected by the bureaucracy at the federal ministry.