NGO: Provide solar power for all rural folk

A solar-powered electricity generator system installed by Sarawak Energy Bhd in Lio Mato in interior northern Sarawak.

MIRI: All one million natives living in rural Sarawak must be given free solar-powered generator sets that can provide 24-hour electricity supply, says a native rights group.

Society for Rights of Indigenous People of Sarawak (Scrips) said every rural household should be given solar-powered sets that can generate clean and uninterrupted electricity supply.

“Having access to electricity is a fundamental right of every citizen, just like the right to have clean water, food resources, land-ownership, jobs and education, ” Scrips secretary-general Michael Jok told StarMetro.

He was commenting on a recent report that some 7,000 natives living in nine villages in the interior of Baram have been given solar-powered electricity generator sets that can provide them with free continuous power supply.

That project was facilitated by Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) under its Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (Sares). SEB is the state’s electricity provider.

Jok praised SEB for its efforts to help rural folks who are still not connected to the state’s electricity grid.

“Sares is a good project and it is very much needed not just in Baram but throughout rural Sarawak.

“There is still a large population of rural folk in Sarawak with no electricity, treated water or other basic amenities.

“The Sares scheme should be extended to the one million or so rural folk still living in the 6,000 remote settlements statewide, ” he said.

Sarawak Public Utilities Minister Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom presented the nine villages with the Sares solar systems.

At a ceremony in Lio Mato settlement, he presented the solar-powered generator sets to the community chiefs, witnessed by SEB top officials.

The beneficiaries are from 630 households in nine remote settlements — Lio Mato, Long Ajeng, Ba Muboi, Long Tungan, Long Selaan, Long Moh, Long Jeeh, Long Jikitan and Long Tikan.

Rundi said SEB would install the solar sets for all the families for free.

“Sares is the method that can provide reliable electricity 24 hours a day.

“It can power lights, fans, TVs, small refrigerators and rice cookers, ” he said.

Jok said there were many isolated settlements where the only source of electricity was from diesel-powered generator sets.

“These generators are costly to run as they require a lot of diesel fuel which can be expensive in rural Sarawak, besides polluting the air too, ” he added.

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