Improving rural basic infrastructure
Despite Malaysia’s considerable achievements in the provision of rural basic infrastructure (RBI), more needs to be done to serve the rural population that constitutes about 35% of Malaysians. In Sabah and Sarawak, there are many villages still not connected by roads and more than a quarter of households do not have access to electricity. Upwards of 40% of households in Sabah and Sarawak and 12% of households in Peninsular Malaysia lack access to clean or treated water.
Consequently, we have embarked on a major rural basic infrastructure development programme in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak. Our aspiration is to:
- Build more than 7,000 km of new and upgraded roads by 2012, 1,900 km of these in Sabah and Sarawak. In Peninsular Malaysia, this will result in 91.4% of the population living within five km of a paved road by 2010, rising to close to 100% in 2012 (currently 91%)
- Provide 50,000 new and restored houses to the rural poor and hardcore poor by 2012, two-thirds of these in Sabah and Sarawak. Of the 50,000, more than 16,000 houses are to be provided in 2010
- Ensure access to clean or treated water to over 360,000 additional households. For Sabah and Sarawak, the programme will raise the percentage of rural houses with access to clean or treated water to 59% and 62% respectively in 2010, rising to 90% for both in 2012 (currently 57% for both states)
- Provide access to 24-hour electricity to over 140,000 additional households by 2012. This will increase the percentage of households with access to electricity in Peninsula Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak to 99.6%, 81% and 73% respectively in 2010 (currently 99%, 77% and 67% respectively).
To meet these targets, we need to accelerate the pace of deployment of these basic services over what has been achieved in the past. As an illustration, over the next three years, we target to build 11 times as many kilometres of roads, 2.5 times as many houses, provide five times as many houses with electricity, and connect seven times as many houses to clean water as compared to what we achieved in 2006–08. We will be able to achieve greater breadth, scale and pace of deployment through:
- Using innovative, quick and least-cost ways of delivery. For example, building standard-design houses, leveraging distributed power generation technologies such as solar hybrid power generation or micro hydro-electricity for areas distant from electricity generation and transmission infrastructure and using alternative solutions such as tube wells, gravity wells, or rain water recovery for areas that are distant from reticulation networks (piped water supplies)
- Revamping existing administrative processes to reduce time required, e.g., the roads open tender process. This will involve using more standard templates, parallel processes where possible, accelerating communications, etc.
- Facilitating and working closely with suppliers to ensure the supply and availability of enough machinery (e.g., excavators, compactors), material (e.g., electricity cabling, pre-mix) and manpower (e.g., contractors, consultants) when required
- Ensuring effective programme management by closely monitoring projects. SPP II, a well-established system managed by the ICU under the Prime Minister’s Department, will be used for recording and tracking RBI initiatives to ensure they are delivered on time and on budget.