Brighter Gawai Festival in 2010

Rural electrification Scheme

Electricity to 90 per cent rural S’wak by 2010, says Tengah

By Lim How Pim
Source: The Borneo Post

KUCHING: At least 90 per cent of the state’s rural population will enjoy electricity supply through its rural electrification scheme (RES) projects worth about RM400 million by 2010.

Public Utilities Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan said the state was confident of achieving the 90 per cent target because it had been working at it since 2008.

“Between 2008 and 2009, RM150 million was allocated under RES to equip some rural areas with electricity supply while for the 2009-2010 contract, RM250 million was granted.

“I am confident that with the implementation of these RES projects, 90 per cent of our population in rural areas will enjoy electricity supply through the current grid system,” he told a press conference yesterday after witnessing the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Public Utilities Ministry and Carbon Capital Corporation (CCC) to carry out solar hybrid projects in the state.

According to him, as of now only 66 per cent of rural folks statewide are provided with electricity supply.

Meanwhile, under the MoU, CCC will implement a pilot solar hybrid project at the Kerapa Spak longhouse in Betong.

There are 47 families with about 570 residents in the village.

It takes a maximum of six months to install the hybrid system, which comes with the ultimate aim of supplying electricity in the interior region of Sarawak.

Tengah, who is also Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management, pointed out that a comprehensive study was still underway to look into the cost of implementing solar hybrid system as well as to identify the appropriate areas for such project.

He said the state government would also bid for federal allocation to meet the potential project cost.

He did not, however, disclose any amount.

“I am very confident that this solar hybrid system is a very much improved system in terms of technology, and that it is simple to use and easy to maintain.

“Given the geographical and terrain factors in Sarawak, we need to identify the suitable areas to implement this system so that more rural areas are equipped with electricity supply,” he added.

In his speech during the signing ceremony earlier, Tengah stressed the importance of easy operation and maintenance of solar systems because they were usually installed in remote areas with no road access.

“The communities in rural areas need to take care of the system and carry out simple routine operation and maintenance themselves.

“They should not depend solely on the government for these tasks as it may be time consuming for government agencies to attend to any technical problems in view of the geographical factors,” he said.

In the event of a breakdown in the system, he said the villagers could rectify the problem particularly when the cause could be just a simple malfunction.

He thus felt that the rural communities had to be imbued with a sense of ownership for the system and trained to carry out simple operation and maintenance tasks.

He added the government would provide technical assistance and follow up on major repairs where necessary.

“Through such community involvement, it is envisaged that the implementation of the alternative systems will be successful,” he said.

Tengah hoped that the new solar hybrid system would emerge to be a solution to provide electricity supply in rural areas state-wide.

“It is simply impossible to provide all rural areas with electricity supply because of rough terrain and remoteness, but we need to embark on this,” he said.

Among those present were Assistant Minister of Water Supply Sylvester Entri Muran, permanent secretary to Public Utilities Ministry Ubaidillah Abd Latif and CCC executive group chairman Datuk Wahab Suhaili.

James said, “It is too good to be true. We just wait and see if this dream becomes a reality. 2010 is not too far away. If it is, then the Barisan Nasional can expect a 100% win during the next State Election.

Where is the 90% of the population situated? Do we consider Lambir as rural? DO we consider Padawan as rural? Or do we consider Ulu Krian as rural? Only the gomen people have the real definition of rural.”