NEWS & UPDATES
Sarawak Energy CSR Programmes In Bakun Resettlement Progressing - Social Investments To Cater For Growing Community
KUCHING, 17 JANUARY 2019, THURSDAY: Sarawak Energy has been working closely with the 15 longhouses of the Bakun Resettlement Scheme at Sungei Asap and Sungei Koyan on projects to enhance their social wellbeing since the energy developer completed the acquisition of Sarawak Hidro, owner and operator of Bakun Hydroelectric Plant (HEP), from Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance in 2017.
Located about two hours by road from Bintulu and one hour from the hydropower plant, the community was established in 1998 when 15 longhouses comprising Kayan, Kenyah, Kajang and Penan communities relocated from, the Balui River in the Upper Rajang to make way for the 2,400MW Bakun HEP.
Based on the philosophy that project-affected communities should benefit positively from its presence, Sarawak Energy’s new social investment programmes in the area are focused on education, cultural heritage and safety as well as entrepreneurship development and capacity building.
“We have engaged with the communities who informed us of some of the challenges and discussed measures that would address these through a comprehensive framework,” explained Sarawak Energy General Manager for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability Jiwari Abdullah.
Following the engagements, the CSR projects have expanded to include assistance on infrastructure upgrades as the resettlement community is growing and thriving with longhouses recording increases in the number of households.
“As a result of the various dialogues, we are partnering the community through committees such as Balui Lake Native Association (BLNA), and Peng Maren-Maren Uma (Longhouse Chiefs Association) on programmes to benefit the communities,” Jiwari added.
New community projects with Sarawak Energy include land-levelling works to expand the traditional burial grounds as well as to extend the “tanah payung” (communal land) to cater for the growing longhouse populations.
EXPANDING BURIAL GROUNDS
Since the community resettled in 1998, the two burial grounds at Sungai Asap and Sungai Koyan have reached full capacity with the 15 longhouses in the resettlement area sharing the sites.
To expand the Sungai Asap burial grounds, land levelling works commenced last month to level terrain and create a terrace system to maximise the cemetery site and protect the area from erosion by building a drainage system. The next phase involves expanding the Sungai Koyan burial grounds.
To kick start works, a traditional ‘dayong bungan’ ritual was held to seek permission and blessings from the dead by Bungan high priest Evong Ing while Pastor Paul Jalong led the Christian prayer session.
The ceremony was attended by longhouse chiefs and representatives. Also present were Peng Maren-Maren Uma Chairman Ellison Duren Lihan and Sarawak Energy’s Assistant Manager for Community Relations Augustine Supen Taja.
“We would like to thank Sarawak Energy on this CSR initiatives for Bakun, particularly on this land levelling project for the cemetery site,” said Pemanca Tony Kulleh, a Kenyah chieftain and community leader.
Sarawak Energy is also assisting the communities in land levelling works to cater for longhouse expansion.
First on the list is the “tanah payung” or communal land for Uma Kelap which has seen an increase in its household population since the resettlement. Once the levelling work is completed, the residents are planning to build another 50 units of houses next to the existing longhouse.
When the residents first resettled from upstream of Balui River to Sungai Asap, there were 104 units of houses with a population of 477 residents. As of last year, the number had doubled.
The overall plan for the Bakun Resettlement Scheme includes landworks for the remaining longhouses in the Bakun Resettlement Scheme with Uma Ukit longhouse to follow Uma Kelap. Previously, land levelling was carried out at Uma Baha in 2015 and Uma Balui Liko in 2016.
Sarawak Energy will work with Belaga District Office and the community leaders to monitor the progress of the projects.
BLNA Chairman Pemanca Tony Kulleh (8th right) and Assistant Manager for Community Relations Augustine Supen Taja (7th right) together with community leaders at the Sungai Asap burial ground.
The women of Uma Kelap performing the ‘parap’ in appreciation of the assistance rendered.
Residents of Uma Kelap in a group photo at the new site for the longhouse extension.
Land levelling works taking place.
Evong Ing (seated) performing the ‘dayong bungan’ ritual to seek permission and blessings from the ancestors.