Fatimah pointing out to the media the statistics of the homeless in the state.

KUCHING: The Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Ministry plans to establish a transit place for the homeless in Sibu and Kuching in the near future.

Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said the ministry had already located a suitable place for the purpose in Sibu, however, the old building required repair beforehand.

“We have identified the place but we need the funding to upgrade and transform it into the transit place for the homeless.

“We are fine-tuning the management and operational cost before tabling this at the next state Cabinet meeting for approval,” she told the press at Baitulmakmur building here yesterday.

Asked on the completion of the place in Sibu, she said hopefully it could start operating by the end of this year but pending allocation before repair works could start. For the transit place in Kuching, she said the ministry was still in the process of identifying a suitable location.

She also encouraged anyone to come forward to contribute to the project, be it suggesting a good place for rental or donating essential supplies such as bedding, toiletries, food, etc.

The transit place in Sibu will be anchored by Persatuan Amal Shan Xin Malaysia while the one in Kuching will be managed by Pertubuhan Pembangunan Insan Sarawak (PPIS) in collaboration with Federation of Chinese Association of Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Division.

On the concept of the safe haven, she said the place would become a shelter for the homeless to sleep in, to eat and to clean themselves. Screening and registration will be managed by the non-governmental organisation (NGO) in charge.

“During the day, the place should be empty where we expect them to go out and find a job or earn income without the need to worry about a place for them to sleep at night anymore,” she stressed.

She further disclosed that during the movement control order (MCO) implemented to curb the spread of Covid-19, a total of 145 homeless people were identified and 79 of them were rescued and placed in temporary transit centres in Sri Aman, Sarikei, Sibu, Bintulu, Miri and Limbang.

However, those centres were closed right after the MCO ended in which some of the homeless had gone back to living on the streets.

There are 421 homeless people in the state, with Kuching and Sibu recording the highest number at 83, followed by Miri (79), Bintulu (61), Sarikei (22), Sri Aman (14), Kapit (13), Limbang (six), Betong (four), Serian (four) and Samarahan (two) while 50 others are those with incomplete information.