NEWS & UPDATES
Murum Hydroelectric Project Updates Will Dispel Third Party Rumours
Kuching (Sarawak), September 23, 2013: Sarawak Energy expresses its concern about the irresponsible act of spreading lies and the attempts to create panic among the public by certain NGOs in relation to the Murum Hydroelectric Project.
Since the closure of the diversion tunnel gate and the start of the reservoir filling on Saturday, 21 September 2013, Sarawak Energy has received numerous queries from the media and members of the public based on a malicious misinformation campaign being carried out by certain NGOs. The reports are the latest chapter in a long running campaign of vilification directed at Sarawak Energy and the state. While Sarawak Energy does not usually respond to the baseless allegations, the latest accusations demand our robust correction.
1. Relocation Status
As per the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) that was approved by the State Government and publicly released in May 2013, the first longhouse community that took possession of their new purpose built accommodation was the Long Wat community. The relocation was done on 9 September 2013 and saw the community successfully moving most of their belongings to Tegulang resettlement site, with the final collection and transportation of belongings is in progress. A further 72 families will join the former residents of Long Wat at Tegulang Resettlement Village, while 192 families will be relocated to the new settlements at Metalun. In each case, the location of the settlements was chosen by the affected communities, with design input from the community and features utilities and amenities requested by the community.
2. Long Wat “Fire”
As per the agreement reached during community consultations with the Long Wat community, AFTER ALL FAMILIES ARE RELOCATED, the old longhouse will be dismantled so that materials can be recycled and reused by the community. Sarawak Energy has also provided the community with transportation to carry the remainder of their belongings and the recycled materials from the old longhouse to the new resettlement village. To date, some families have collected their belongings and some are still in progress. The suggestion that Sarawak Energy staff have committed arson by the irresponsible NGOs is offensive but typical of the vile lies propagated by the opponents of Sarawak Energy.
RESERVOIR FILLING PROCESS
Contrary to the suggestion made by the third parties and NGOs, the reservoir filling is a slow process that can take up to 14 months. As the safety and well being of the project affected community is our key priority, the process is based on clearly mapped out timelines. The Long Wat relocation was done on 9 September, 2013, where ALL 89 families vacated their old longhouse. They have successfully moved with their families to Tegulang Resettlement village and are enjoying the comfort of their new homes equipped with facilities, amenities and infrastructure.
The next area that will be relocated are Long Malim followed by Long Tangau, Long Menapa and finally Long Luar and Long Singu. Relocation process for all communities will be completed by end of the year.
PENANS GATHERING ONSITE
There are currently a number of representatives of the Penan community, from the affected Murum area with whom we are currently carrying out discussion on their requests ranging from faster relocation to the new longhouses to wanting clarification on the compensation packages. However, there are also a number of outsiders present at site and Sarawak Energy will not entertain their requests.
Although the general sentiment is towards wanting to have their compensation immediately and enjoy the same amenities and utilities as their Long Wat counterparts as fast as possible, the communities will be compensated and relocated as per the timelines set in accordance to the relocation schedule and guided by the approved Resettlement Action Plan. Sarawak Energy urges all parties to refer to the Resettlement Action Plan for clarification and not to listen to the fictional embellishments of certain NGOs and outsiders that have been spreading lies to smear the image of the company and the State of Sarawak and to sabotage the concerted efforts that went into bringing development to the people.
The international standards call for ‘restoration of livelihood’. The Murum Resettlement Action Plan outlines a support mechanism supported by Sarawak Energy to uplift the per capita income of the community to above that of the poverty line. The plan has been developed so that over the next five to seven year period, the communities can create their own sustainable enonomy through agricultural based industries and products.
WHY HYDROPOWER IS NEEDED
Having recognized the limited potential for further sustainable growth in the State’s traditional industries like petroleum, timber and oil palm, the Sarawak Government developed the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (or SCORE) as a strategy to propel the State economy to a new level of income and development.
Sarawak Energy’s role in SCORE is to harness Sarawak’s sustainable strategic advantage in the production of bulk electricity from hydropower at globally competitive prices to attract investment to the State. In turn, this massive investment generates new employment in semi-skilled and skilled occupations, which provide the opportunity for the people of Sarawak to achieve a higher income and better standard of living. This speeds up the industrialization process in the state and with industry, the State will enjoy better infrastructure especially in the areas (remote areas) surrounding the growth nodes.
Contrary to some reports, this strategy has been highly successful. All the energy from the Bakun and Murum hydroelectric projects has already been sold to customers from the aluminum, silicon and manganese industries.