Fatimah: Sarawak to have 3 more temporary transit centres for homeless


A homeless individual pictured yesterday wandering near a commercial area at Kuching Waterfront. – Photo by Roystein Emmor

KUCHING (Feb 8): Three temporary transit centres (TTGs) for the homeless will be set up in Kuching, Miri and Bintulu, said Sarawak Minister of Women, Early Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah.

Fatimah said a fund of RM7 million has already been approved under the 12th Malaysia Plan to cover the setting up and operation costs of the transit centres.

“The building premises for the TTG in Kuching and Miri will be ready by October this year after renovations are done. As for the one in Bintulu, a new building is required to be constructed that will also house a community social support centre,” added Fatimah.

She disclosed this during a press conference held after chairing a committee meeting on managing homelessness issue at Wisma Bapa Malaysia here yesterday.

Fatimah said the new building in Bintulu will take about 24 months to be completed and it is expected to be ready by April 2025.

TTG Miri is expected to be operational in November this year, Kuching in November 2024 and Bintulu in May 2025.

An anchor non-governmental organisation will be identified to manage the running of each TTG.

Presently, she said only one TTG has been established in the state, located in Sibu, and it has provided shelter to 74 people since it began operation in December 2021.

A social enterprise initiative was also carried out at TTG Sibu with support from Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas), in which rattan baskets made by homeless persons living there are marketed at petrol stations around Sibu.

“The state government strives to promote inclusivity and it is our wish that homeless individuals are not ignored by the community and can continue to live in harmony in the society. A dignified existence and a sustainable wellbeing.”

Trainings and workshops are also conducted for workers at the transit centres to better deal with their residents, as some may be suffering from mental issues.

Moreover, based on the statistics in 2022, a total of 89 homeless individuals have been profiled in the state, 66 of them men.

In terms of districts, Kuching had 42 homeless individuals last year, Sibu had 25; Bintulu (7), Miri (8), Sarikei (3), Samarahan (3) and Betong (1).

The figure represented a 51 per cent decrease compared with 174 recorded in the state in 2021, while 2020 recorded the highest number of homeless individuals for the past seven years at 237.

Among the factors contributing to homelessness are no place to stay, unemployment, mental problem, family issue, drug and substance abuse, and stigma.

On a separate note, Fatimah said her ministry aims to improve their system on profiling homeless individuals in the state going forward.