Wednesday, July 8

State govt steps in to revive halted RES projects

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KUCHING: The Ministry of Utilities and Sarawak Energy are in the process of recovering rural electrification projects that have fallen significantly behind schedule.

In a statement yesterday, the ministry highlighted 23 Rural Electrification Scheme (RES) projects awarded by the federal government to a third-party contractor.

These were originally scheduled for 2017 but all works were halted when the contractor faced difficulty in completion.

Ten of the projects affecting 26 villages and 633 households were taken over by the Sarawak government and Sarawak Energy at the end of 2019.

The Sarawak government is also in the midst of taking over the remaining 13 projects affecting 18 villages and 358 households from the company.

“Recovery works have already started or been completed for some of the taken-over projects, with the remainder due for completion from end 2020 up to 2021. These RES projects are located mainly in the northern region of Sarawak,” the statement said.

One project covering three villages with 127 households at Marudi has been substituted with SARES solar schemes.

“Another six projects for 16 villages comprising 328 households were incorporated into ongoing Sarawak Energy projects under the Sarawak government’s Projek Rakyat funding while the remaining will be tendered out in the coming months,” the statement added.

In Lawas alone, there are four villages with 47 households affected.

“They shall now be incorporated into the overall plan to electrify more than 800 households from 36 villages all the way to Ba’kelalan. The villages will enjoy 24-hour electricity supply following the construction of a new 33kV covered conductor line which is expected to be commissioned in stages from 2021,” the ministry said.

It explained that the 23 projects are in addition to the existing 81 ongoing projects in the Accelerated Rural Electrification Master Plan under the Sarawak Government’s RM2.37 billion Projek Rakyat funding.

The statement quoted Utilities Minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom as saying that the ministry will continue to do its utmost to achieve the targeted 97 per cent rural electrification coverage rate in the coming months, and full coverage by 2025.

Acknowledging that all rural electrification projects have been delayed by the Movement Control Order (MCO), he said work has since resumed following the lifting of the Conditional MCO and the team is now picking up the pace to get these projects back on track.

“Sarawak Energy already has its team on the ground initiating work to expedite these
projects to ensure the remaining rural villages and households gain access to reliable and affordable electricity supply regardless of how remote their homes are located,” the minister added.