TO be able to enjoy uninterrupted power supply especially during the night, is something that residents in three villages on Banggi Island in Kudat have always wished and hoped for.
Their wish was recently fulfilled by Petronas, through its subsidiary Petronas Floating LNG (PFLNG), when it installed solar-power energy systems in the three villages thus enhancing the quality of life for about 700 villagers there.
Prior to the implementation of these solar-power energy systems, the villages had to rely on generators, oil lamps, and torchlights for illumination, albeit for a limited time each night – typically from 6 pm until 8 pm. The financial strain of operating generators, coupled with the high cost of island petrol, placed a heavy burden on their budgets.
But now with the installation of the solar-power energy systems, their homes can be lit up until morning and at the same time, reduce their expenses too.
Aptly named ‘Uplifting Lives – Rays of Hope’, Petronas’ project on Banggi island saw the installation of the solar-power energy systems in namely Kampung Rahmat, Kampung Semayan, and Kampung Dogoton where it made a whole world of difference to the villagers especially their school going children as they are now able to study and do revision at night.
For Rogayah Mabbirrun, 34, and her husband Marjud Abdul Rasul, 44, from Kampung Semayan, Petronas has given them a wonderful birthday present with the installation of the solar power system at the home.
“My husband and I were born in August, so was our eldest child. This is an unforgettable birthday present for us. Our four children can now study and do their homework at night,” said Rogayah.
Marjud who is Kampung Semayan’s village head said he is the fourth generation from his family residing on the island and the couple which has three school going children, thankful to be one of the lucky recipients of Petronas’ ‘Uplifting Lives – Rays of Hope’ project.
Their neighbour Sufianah Johari, 25, said when the solar energy system was installed at their house on Aug 9, her family stayed up the whole night enjoying the light from one of the five lights installed on the premises.
“We switched on the balcony light and sat there chatting while having coffee till dawn. It was so much fun. One of our neighbours even played music till late at night,” she said.
Her mother-in-law Ramsiah Osman, 55, said that while they own a generator, it was not used that often as the petrol to run it is expensive.
“Here on the island, we pay RM7 for a 1.5 litre bottle of petrol and that will provide us with a couple of hours of power. To run the generator from 6pm to 1am, we will have to spend about RM20 on petrol,” she said.
With no steady means of income, they will only use the generator when necessary. Sufianah said when there is no money to purchase the petrol needed, they will rely on oil lamps.
She also said that they now can charge their handphones in the comfort of their home, and no longer need to go to SK Semayan to do so.
“We also have power for a fan, and this is really great,” she said.
Another recipient Siti Maimunah Amarun, 43, welcomed the transition from oil lamps and generator to solar power as it provides her family with uninterrupted power supply.
“This change is welcomed as it means progress. Petronas brought us peace of mind too as we no longer have to worry about power supply. My husband is a fisherman and when the weather is bad, we will have no income, meaning there will be no money to buy petrol to run the generator,” said Siti Maimunah who added that monsoon season is always a tough time for them.
In the next village, Kampung Rahmat, fisherman Madkasam Taha, 62, has lived all his life on the island and have also relied on oil lamps and generators for power.
“Now I do not have to worry anymore as the solar power system provided by Petronas means we get free power for our homes. This is a huge relief for us as our expenses on petrol is reduced and we can have our lights on till morning,” said Madkasam.
In Kampung Dogoton, Mohd Yatim Mahari’s house was the first one to be installed with the solar power system.
Now employed as a security guard of the primary school in the village, Mohd Yatim who has seven children, five of whom are school-going, expressed relief that they will have proper lighting when they study at night.
The project started in March this year was in collaboration with the Sabah Ministry of Rural Development to establish clean energy access for the villagers.
In March phase One of the project started with the installation of the system at the suraus of the three villages.
Phase Two was conducted this month and saw the installation of the solar energy system in 45 houses in Kampung Rahmat, 25 houses in Kampung Semayan, and 75 houses in Kampung Dogoton. The project has now been completed well ahead of its target, which is in September this year.
Each house was installed with a 1,000-watt battery, five lights, a fan and two charging ports, all which can be used simultaneously for approximately eight hours.
For Petronas, the project is about facilitating the remote community’s access to sustainable energy solutions with the aim of enhancing their quality of life and promoting inclusive development.
It also increases access to sustainable and clean energy sources for local communities, leading to enhanced living conditions and economic opportunities as well as strengthening community resilience through skills development, knowledge sharing, and empowerment, fostering a sense of ownership and sustainable growth.
Chief executive officer of PFLNG, Azrul Roshazli said, “As a progressive energy and solutions provider, Petronas has equal responsibilities to play in providing lower-carbon energy for businesses and to improve the livelihoods of the communities where we operate. Through the installation of these solar-powered systems, we’re not just providing clean energy access, but also enabling these communities to enhance their livelihoods through the cost-savings achieved.”