Wednesday, April 1

MCO extension: Ensure adequate food, essential supplies in rural areas – Gerawat

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Dato Gerawat Gala

MIRI: State Legislative Assembly Deputy Speaker Dato Gerawat Gala has appealed to the government to ensure adequate food and essential supplies for longhouses and settlements in rural areas in Sarawak throughout the Movement Control Order (MCO) period which has been extended to April 14.

“The extension of the MCO will result in prolonged hardship for our rural communities who do not have access to supermarkets for food and other essential necessities such fuel oil and other daily necessities,” he said when asked on the impact and issues that need to be addressed due to the extension of MCO.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muuhyiddin Yassin said the extension of MCO was needed to reinforce efforts to break the momentum of Covid-19 pandemic onslaught in Malaysia.

Gerawat, who is also Mulu assemblyman, said it is essential that there is adequate food and essential supplies for remote longhouses in rural areas his constituency during the MCO period in order for the people to comply with the MCO and all related directives from the State Disaster Management Committee and Health Department.

“It is my hope together with our other ADUNs (state assemblymen) of rural constituencies that the relevant government agency have in place their strategy to ensure adequate supply of food and essential items to our people in remote rural areas over the duration of the MCO.

“This is critical for all parties to stop the spread of Covid-19 to the longhouses and villages in the rural areas which as of now are still clear of Covid-19.”

Gerawat warned that any outbreak or spread of infection of Covid-19 in the rural areas could be disastrous due to the very limited medical facilities and medical personnel available.

Besides that, he said evacuating patients to town hospitals would not be practical due logistical problems.

This is compounded by the absence of enforcement in remote and isolated areas during MCO, he added.

Gerawat said town-based enforcement agencies must set up road blocks at key areas to control movement of people by road, river and air to these rural destination,s while community and village chiefs must stop tourists, visitors and their own town based folks from going to their respective longhouses.

“The respective District Offices, Sarawak Administrative Officers (SAOs) and local councillors, community leaders and villager heads should identify those in the longhouses needing food and essential supplies and adopt the same process for supply and distribution of emergency food supplies during floods.

“This should also extend to informing and processing the “Sarawaku Sayang Financial Assistance” for the the B40 group during the duration of the MCO as announced by the chief minister recently.”