Pushing Sri Aman to greater growth

Date:

Sada to spur division’s economy and development

Today marks the official launch and completion of Wisma Sri Aman Development Agency, located in Jalan Brayun, Simanggang, by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

The new three-storey building will house a permanent exhibition detailing the efforts and development planning of the Sri Aman Development Agency (Sada).

Located 193km from Kuching, Sri Aman Division has a total area of 5,466.25 square kilometres.

Though it has a large administrative area, it is sparsely populated with just over 100,000 residents. Its scattered population as well as geographical factors have caused development to be slightly behind compared to other divisions.

Establishment of Sada

Taking note of this situation, state and federal representatives discussed a new approach in which Sri Aman’s development — agriculture, tourism, connectivity, water and electricity supply and so on — could be coordinated.

Rohani during a special interview. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

On Jan 19, 2020, Abang Johari announced the establishment of Sari Aman Development Area, and appointed Batang Lupar MP Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim as the chairperson.

“I met the chief minister on June 4 last year to have the word ‘area’ changed to ‘agency’ and he agreed.

“That’s how Sada was renamed the Sri Aman Development Agency,” Rohani disclosed.

She said with its tagline ‘Bridging Gaps, Unleashing Potential’, Sada aimed to make Sri Aman a socioeconomically developed division by 2030.

“Sri Aman has been left out in many areas despite being among the first five divisions created during Rajah Brooke’s administration.

“For the past several decades, the division has fallen behind, particularly in infrastructure and socioeconomic development.”

She noted that despite having the advantage of being close to Kuching, Sri Aman had yet to experience significant development spillovers.

“In fact, it has experienced serious and debilitating issues caused by the migration of its population to Kuching and other urban regions in Malaysia.

“That is why, with Sada’s establishment, we aim to ensure a more holistic and balanced development between rural and urban, to accelerate the growth in Sri Aman Division in line with Sarawak’s aspiration to be a high- income economy by 2030.”

Rohani shared that there were five State Legislative Assembly (DUN) constituencies and three parliaments under the administration of Sada.

The DUN constituencies are Lingga, Simanggang, Batang Ai, Bukit Bengunan and Balai Ringin while the three parliaments are Batang Lupar, Sri Aman and Lubok Antu.

“These state and federal elected representatives are in the Sada steering committee. The members are myself, State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion, Simanggang assemblyman Datuk Francis Harden Hollis, Batang Ai assemblyman Datuk Malcom Mussen Lamoh, Lingga assemblyman Datuk Simoi Peri, Balai Ringin assemblyman Datuk Snowdan Lawan, Bukit Begunan assemblyman Datuk Mong Dagang and Sri Aman Division Resident Datuk Indit Bangai.

“With this committee, I believe that each of the areas has its own advantages that we will be able to highlight.

“We set up four working committees to divide the development. The technical clusters are Infrastructure Development (drainage and irrigation management, roads and bridges, utilities, and ICT and digital technology); Agriculture Development (food basket, commercialization and modernisation, ecosystem, and agropolitan, mini estate, eco culture and livestock).

“There will also be working committees on non-agriculture economic development (industrial and commercial, business and entrepreneurship, and tourism); and social development (education and technical and vocational education training centre (TVET), healthcare services, municipal services, and youth and sports).”

She pointed out that Sada’s role was similar to the Integrated Regional Samarahan Development Agency (IRSDA). “Hence, we were also given RM1.5bil to implement the development projects.”

Sada’s development plan

“Since its establishment, Sada had two series of lab sharing workshops last year involving community leaders, tribal leaders, associations, non-governmental organisations, and many more.

“Thus far, all the projects are still in the planning stages. The study stage alone requires RM13 million.

“The study of this master plan is needed because it covers various aspects. Projects cannot be implemented without a thorough study.

“So this year is the study stage of the master plan, then starting next year, some projects will commence,” Rohani explained.

“There are 203 projects based on the master plan, covering the five constituencies, and amounting to over RM8bil.”

She added that Abang Johari emphasised on developing agricultural resources, especially paddy, because Lingga/Banting had great potential to be a rice production area.

“If we can develop this, it will definitely have a positive impact on Sri Aman. Apart from that, there are various tourist attractions such as the tidal bore, Gunung Lesung, Batang Ai Resort, Batang Ai National Park, Pulau Seduku Crocodile Sanctuary Centre, and many more.

“All these areas are assets to the Sri Aman Division that can generate income.

“However, before we are able to commence with large-scale agriculture, we need to build infrastructures such as dams and canals.

“In addition, building basic facilities such as roads to connect the villages, then electricity supply, clean water, Internet connection and so on are also needed.”

Rohani said Sada would also build a permanent education institute such as the Sarawak Skills Development Centre (PPKS).

“It will be a training centre for youths because some of them may not be good academically but they are good with hands-on skills.

“So I want to prepare them for agriculture. This is because certain crops would need some skills to repair, maintain as well as to computerise the machines. This manpower will greatly help with the development effort.”

Challenges that await Sada

As Sada has multiple constituencies under it, there are bound to be challenges but “as long as everyone cooperates in achieving the same goal, the challenges can be overcome.”

“We know that we cannot fully depend on state government funding, hence, I thought that if I can bring in investors to Sri Aman, why not?

“On top of that, we may be able to attract tourists faster because the more funds we get, the faster the development in Sri Aman will be.

“That is why I brought up Sada in Parliament so that the federal government knows about it. Also, as Sri Aman is very close to Indonesia’s new capital, we may be able to supply food products and many more since currently Sarawak is supplying them with hydropower.”

Hopes for Sada

Rohani has high hopes for Sada as it is an agency that bears a considerable responsibility in bringing about faster development change for Sri Aman Division.

“With the commitment of every Sada citizen, Sri Aman Division will be able to emerge as one of the developed divisions.”

Artist’s impression of Medan Selera and Pasar Lingga.

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