KUCHING: Victims of a freak fire incident seven years ago are now getting on with their lives after being relocated to their new houses in Sibu.
In the incident on June 19, 2013, a total of 64 houses at Kampung Datu Lama and Kampung Hilir were completely destroyed, leaving 143 families without a shelter.
Local Government and Housing Assistant Minister Dr Annuar Rapaee in recalling the incident seven years ago said he was still in his first term as Nangka assemblyman when it happened.
“When I got news of the incident, I remember hoping that there would not be too many houses that were destroyed. I also remember that the fire was peculiar as it managed to spread to the houses across the road,” he said in a video uploaded to his Facebook page yesterday.
He said the state government has since worked to attend to the needs of the 143 families who lost their homes, including relocating them to a temporary residence.
“Earlier on, they were placed at at Sekolah Agama in Lakis, and then some of them were relocated to a flat owned by the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) in Rantau Panjang and another in Sibu Jaya.
“Throughout the duration of their stay, they were not charged and were waiting for a permanent residence,” he said.
Dr Annuar said from the 143 families, 36 of them bought new houses at Kampung Datu Baru; 17 have moved to the Kampung Bahagia Jaya Teku Housing Assistance Programme (PPRT); and 17 others are living at Jalan Jerwit PPRT.
“Nine of the families will get their PPRT approved this month, while 66 other families will be given priority in buying the Spektra Permata house at Kemunyang.
“They will get the houses which are currently in the first phase and are expected to be completed by the end of this year,” he said.
He explained, for the 36 families at Kampung Datu Baru, some of them still have their old lots at the original site of the fire.
“Here, the state government only assisted in the cost of the land — meaning the lot is given for free and they only have to pay for the house,” he said.
Dr Annuar also said that the relocation project was not without its challenges as building the new houses takes time.
“This is also not helped by the fact that these families are no longer staying together; some of them are already living in separate houses,” he said.