There is a need to have more Urban Transformation Centres (UTCs) in Sarawak. This one-stop centre for government services is getting congested daily especially in Miri and Kuching, an indication that more people are using its services.
The Federal Government expanded its UTC concept to Miri in northern Sarawak at the end of 2015.
Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak launched the UTC located adjacent to the Miri City Council in grand fashion before the 2016 state elections.
Looking at its usefulness, the UTC is definitely one of the good things that Najib had done for the rakyat.
Miri functions as the main hub for some 1.5 million urban and rural people living in this northern part of the state.
A UTC is a one stop centre where all Federal Government agencies will be housed, including a 1 Malaysia Clinic.
In Sarawak, it also houses the state government agencies.
It is opened seven days a week from 8am to 9pm except on public holidays.
It is a very useful concept as it enables citizens to handle important tasks with these departments more conveniently and efficiently in one place.
Miri City serves as the focal point for social, economic and business dealings for those living in the northern districts of not just Miri but also Bintulu, Suai, Niah, Sibuti, Bekenu, Marudi, interior Baram, Long Lama, Limbang, Lawas, Bario and Bakelalan.
Miri is also an important venue for the 35,000 plus Malaysians who are working and living in Brunei.
Putrajaya has a policy that there will be one UTC for each state.
While this policy may be applicable to the states in peninsular Malaysia, it is not practical for Sarawak to have only one UTC.
Sarawak is different in the logistic aspects as it huge in size. It is as big as the whole of peninsular Malaysia.
Therefore it is justified for Miri to have a UTC to cater to the needs of Malaysians in northern Sarawak and those in Brunei.
Since 2016, another UTC has been set up in central Sarawak in Sibu town, making it three UTCs in Sarawak, with one each in Kuching, Miri and Sibu.
There is now an urgent need for UTCs to expand to big towns like Bintulu, Limbang, Lawas, Kapit, Sarikei, Sri Aman, Serian and Samarahan.
For the other smaller towns, mini-UTCs in the form of Rural Transformation Centres (RTCs) should be set up. Every parliamentary constituency should have at least one UTC or RTC. Sarawak has 31 parliamemtary seats and 81 state seats.
This state deserves to have more UTCs and RTCs and the Pakatan Harapan Government must continue this useful initiative introduced by the previous Federal Government.