BY NATASHA JEE & MARGARET RINGGIT
MIRI: Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said he had delivered on his promises after he took over as Chief Minister, among them being to improve water and electricity supply in rural areas.
He said in addition to the Sarawak Rural Water Supply Department (JBALB), the Sarawak Alternative Water Supply (Sawes) and Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (Sares) were set up to address water and electricity supply issues.
“When I was the tourism minister before I became chief minister, the councillors and elected representatives had voiced out the problem of water supply here (Niah).
“So, when I became chief minister, the first thing that I did to develop this area (Niah) was by allocating a sum of RM132 million to upgrade water supply here and now it has been resolved.
“And villages that did not have water supply now have water supply. Alhamdulillah I have fulfilled my promises to upgrade the water supply here (Niah),” he said when officiating at the launch of the Niah Waterfront Phase 2 here on Monday (Nov 29).
The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) chairman added he had also approved a sum of RM150 million for water supply projects in Kabong.
“It cost about RM4 billion to provide areas with water supply in the state.
“This was one of my focuses after I took over from Tok Nan (former chief minister the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem), to find money to develop rural areas especially their water and electricity supply,” he said.
He said with the additional revenue from the collection of the five percent State Sales Tax (SST) on petroleum products, the state was able to carry out these development projects.
“That is why in the 2022 State Budget, a sum of more than RM10 billion has been allocated and 70 per cent goes toward development including in the rural areas,” he said.
On another note, he said the state had agreed to upgrade the Niah Cave’s facilities without disturbing its nature.
“This includes setting up buggy trails and tourists can now use the buggies, powered by batteries, to enter the cave,” he said.
He added the upgrading was part of the state’s long-term development for the area, including the building of the Niah Waterfront.
“All these developments are expected to further boost the economy of residents near this cave,” he said.