Treated water, electricity to whole Sarawak by 2025

Sares supplying electricity to remote Long Pilah in Telang Usan.

KUCHING: The Sarawak government aims to supply treated water and electricity to all areas in the state by 2025.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan said   the Ministry of Utilities and its implementing agencies; Rural Water Supply Department (JBALB), Kuching Water Board, Sibu Water Board, Laku Management Sdn Bhd and Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) would help the state to achieve its aim.

“For both water and electricity, short to long term initiatives under the Sarawak Water Supply Master Plan, State Water Grid Programme and the Sarawak Rural Electrification Master Plan were implemented in 2018.

“Resolving the immediate water problem issues faced, the Sarawak Water Grid Supply System-Stressed Areas funded under Projek Rakyat will improve the current water supply situations in Sarawak and aims to bring an end to water woes in Sarawak,” he said after chairing the State Utilities Task Force project monitoring meeting on Monday (June 14).

Awang Tengah (top left) chairing State Utilities Task Force virtual meeting

The minister added RM4 billion was allocated for 321 water supply projects in the water programme under Projek Rakyat which aimed to resolve the water supply reliability issues in water-stressed areas and provide potable water supply to those without access to this basic amenity.

“As of now, 165 projects have been completed while the remaining 156 projects are expected to be completed by 2023.

“The completion of all these projects will minimise immediate water supply issues in the water-stressed areas by increasing the volume of treated water delivered to the consumers and improving the water supply pressure,” he explained.

Awang Tengah revealed that a total of RM2.37 billion was allocated under the Sarawak Government’s Projek Rakyat Accelerated Rural Electrification Master Plan.

“The cost includes the Rural Power Supply Scheme (RPSS) that extends and enhances the main grid infrastructure to rural areas with new substations built as power injection points and allows for subsequent Rural Electrification Scheme (RES) Last Mile connections to localised areas for eventual supply to domestic houses,” he said.

Awang Tengah added that since 2019, five substations had been completed and commissioned at Batang Ai, Pakan, Julau, Ng. Ngungun, and Sebauh.

Another five were currently under construction at Tatau, Kanowit, Dalat, Sangan and Belaga.

Meanwhile, work on two other substations Long Lama and Ba’kelalan would begin after the land had been acquired.

Construction of three high level tanks to address the water issues in Samariang, Kuching

“For villages or longhouses too distant to be connected to these utility grid-systems or without the proper road access for constructing water and electricity connections, stand-alone Sarawak Alternative Water Supply System (Sawas) and Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (Sares) are implemented,” said Awang Tengah.

He further explained that these stand-alone off-grid systems enabled the people in the remote areas to enjoy these amenities without having to wait for the grid-system, which would take a longer time as it depended on accessibility to these areas.

“On rural coverage for these basic amenities, the overall water supply coverage in Sarawak is estimated at 83.4 percent with rural water supply coverage at 66.5 percent.

“The state’s overall coverage for electricity is 98 percent while the rural electricity supply coverage at 95 percent.

“The government is committed to achieving full coverage for these utilities by 2025 despite facing many challenges in reaching the remote rural areas with limited or no proper accessibility. These are further compounded by the current Covid-19 pandemic which had disrupted the implementation of many projects and delayed their completion,” he said.

Awang Tengah once again stressed that the state government, through the Ministry of Utilities and its implementing agencies were committed to delivering these initiatives under Projek Rakyat to ensure the people of Sarawak have access to clean water supply and 24-hour electricity supply.

Also present at the State Utilities Task Force meeting were   Utilities Minister  Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom;  Assistant   Utilities Minister (Rural Electricity) Datuk Liwan Lagang; Assistant Utilities Minister(Water Supply) Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi; Deputy State Secretary (Socio-Economic Transformation) Datuk Seri Mohamad Abu Bakar Marzuki; Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Utilities Datuk Alice Jawan and senior officers from State Financial Secretary’s office, Economic Planning Unit Sarawak, and the respective implementing agencies.