KUCHING, June 29 — Sarawak Utilities Ministry has stepped in to revive all 23 Rural Electrification Scheme (RES) projects located mainly in the northern region of the state which are significantly behind schedule.

Its minister, Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom today said that this move was part of the Sarawak government’s efforts to fulfill its commitment of achieving full electricity coverage statewide by 2025.

“We will continue to do our utmost best to achieve the targeted 97 per cent rural electrification coverage rate in the coming months and full coverage by 2025 to ensure that no one is left in the dark (without electricity)”, he said in a statement today.

The federal government awarded these projects to a third-party contractor, Citra Alti Sdn Bhd, to supply power to the villages and longhouses by 2017 but all works were halted when the company faced difficulties to complete them.

“Out of the total, 10 projects which affected 26 villages and 633 households were taken over by the state government and (state-owned power utility company) Sarawak Energy Berhad at the end of 2019,” he said.

He said the Sarawak government was in the process of taking over the remaining 13 projects involving 18 villagers and 358 households from the company and recovery works had already started.

“One of the projects which covers three villages with 127 households in Marudi has been replaced with the Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (SARES)”, he said.

Another six projects, involved 16 villages and 328 households, have been incorporated under the state government’s ‘Projek Rakyat’ while the tender process for the remaining (projects) will be carried out in the coming months.

These 23 projects are an addition to the existing 81 ongoing projects under the state’s Accelerated Rural Electrification Master Plan worth RM2.37 billion.

Works on the projects which were delayed by the recent movement control order (MCO), have since resumed following the lifting of the conditional movement control order (CMCO), he said. 

“Sarawak Energy already has its teams on the ground to expedite these projects and to ensure that the remaining rural villagers will gain access to electricity supply, regardless the locations”, he added. — Bernama