Thursday, October 6

More funds needed to achieve 100 per cent electricity coverage by 2025 — Dr Rundi

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Dr Rundi (standing, fifth left) in a group photo with VIPs and representatives of eight villages who had just received their certificates of ownership.

LONG SILAT, Baram: Sarawak needs more allocations from the federal government to ensure that it can achieve its target of 100 per cent electricity coverage by 2025.

Minister of Public Utilities Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom said apart from the allocation of RM1.34 billion already approved by the federal government, the state needed RM6.7 billion to ensure that all Sarawakians have access to 24-hour electricity supply, including those in the rural areas.

“Sarawak has now reached 24-hour electricity coverage of about 90 per cent of rural population. About 30,000 households or 10 per cent of the total population still have got no access to 24-hour electricity supply.

“Our goal is to achieve full electrification by 2025. An allocation of RM1.34 billion has been approved by the federal government for 2016-2020 in the 11th Malaysia Plan. Nevertheless, for complete electrification, an additional allocation of RM6.7 billion is required,” the Kemena assemblyman said at the ceremony to hand over ownership of Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (Sares) systems for rural residents of Telang Usan and Beluru) here yesterday.

Dr Rundi (front) shaking hands with villagers of Long Silat, joined by Anyi (on his right) and Dennis (on his left).

Dr Rundi acknowledged that supplying electricity to all of Sarawak, where 45 percent of its population live in hilly and isolated rural areas, is a very challenging task.

“Nonetheless, the state government strives to ensure that all citizens, including those in the rural and remote areas have access to 24-hour electricity supply,” he added.

He said electricity is supplied to rural areas with road access through distribution grid connection and transmission grid connection while a single system using the Alternative Rural Electrification Project (Hybrid) and Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (Sares) is used for remote areas.

“Sares is a strategy to supply electricity to areas like Telang Usan and Beluru and other remote communities in the state,” he explained.

He revealed that more than 8,700 households in over 300 villages and longhouses without roads will be supplied with electricity via Sares using solar or micro-hydro energy.

“RM500 million has been allocated between the period of 2016-2020 to supply electricity to 8,700 households under Sares.

“Since the implementation of Sares in 2016, over 2,000 households in 90 remote villages and longhouses are now able to enjoy 24-hour electricity supply,” he added.

Each project involves the construction of standalone alternative systems, utilising micro-hydro or solar technologies.

Eight longhouses in Baram constituency namely Long Tepen, Long Lunyim, Long Julan, Long Silat, Long Pejawai, Long Dunin, Long Nuah and Long Aton received ownership of their Sares solar systems at the ceremony yesterday.

Under the community-based Sares programme, the Ministry of Utilities, Sarawak Energy and these eight remote communities from Telang Usan and Beluru areas worked together to build solar systems for their respective villages, chosen due to the challenge of connecting them to the grid.

The project which cost RM15 million has now enabled over 2, 400 residents from the 365 households to enjoy 24-hour electricity.

Among them is KK William Nyurang of Long Nuah who regards the project as highly significant in reducing the burden of the rural communities.

“Prior to this, we spent a lot to buy diesel for our generators. The rural communities in Baram are very grateful to the Barisan Nasional government for such initiative which brought great impact to us here,” he said.

At the event, Dr Rundi announced an allocation of RM40,000 from himself and another RM40,000 from Mulu assemblyman Datuk Gerawat Gala, who is deputy speaker of State Legislative Assembly, for the building of a community hall in Long Silat.

Among those present were Gerawat, Baram MP Anyi Ngau, Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau, Ministry of Utilities permanent secretary Dato Alice Jawan, Sarawak Energy executive vice president of corporate services Aisah Eden, political secretary to the chief minister Charles Balan Seling, Temenggong Joseph Ngau Lian, Sarawak Energy general manager for research and development Dr Chen Shiun, Beluru district officerMohd Rashdan Hazemi, former deputy state secretary Datu Ose Murang, Sarawak Energy group chief executive officer Sharbini Suhaili, Miri deputy Resident Nyurak Keti and community leaders.