By John Isaac
THE Ministry of Utilities Sarawak has pushed its target to supply electricity to 97 per cent of the rural areas to early 2021 instead of 2020.
In a statement reported by Borneo Post, the ministry said the delay was due to the Movement Control Order (MCO) that was first imposed in March in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which affected rural electrification works schedules
The delays have affected the progress of projects under the Rural Electrification Scheme (RES) and Rural Power Supply Scheme (RPSS) by several months.
“Under the RM2.37 billion Accelerated Rural Electrification Masterplan of the Ministry of Utilities being implemented by Sarawak Energy, Sarawak had a target aim of 97 per cent of rural electrification by 2020.
“Project works resumed in May under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) and are subject to full compliance with the relevant Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs),” the ministry said.
It also said an additional 12,000 rural households will be powered under the post-MCO electrification projects.
Under these projects, the power grids were extended into the rural heartlands through the construction of substations as well transmission and distribution lines into rural villages.
The Masterplan also includes projects under the government-community partnership Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (Sares) for remote villages that are very distant from the grid.
Funded under the state government’s Projek Rakyat, Sares was conceptualised as a fast track solution to provide remote households with electricity via solar or micro hydro powered systems.
“Since Sares was launched in 2016, about 8,000 remote households now enjoy reliable, renewable and free electricity while another 3,000 households will have their electricity requirements met by 2020 through this programme.
“Sares has been relatively unaffected by the MCO as current projects were only in the pre-implementation early planning phase,” it added.