News & Updates
Lighting Up Rural Sarawak: Over 5,200 Households Receive ALAF Connection Assistance
9 NOVEMBER 2021
Over 5,200 households from a total of 450 villages throughout Sarawak have benefited under the ALAF or Additional Late Applicant Fund initiative.
“ALAF is a State Government’s initiative under Projek Rakyat which aims to reduce the financial burden for eligible new rural homeowners needing power connection,” said Minister for Utilities Sarawak, Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom.
The costs for eligible ALAF applicants to connect to the existing rural distribution network are absorbed by the State Government for single-phase connection. Conceptualised in 2018, ALAF is administered by the Ministry of Utilities Sarawak with Sarawak Energy as the implementing agency.
“As a result of our focus on rural development, Sarawak’s rural areas are enjoying improved infrastructure and utilities. Due to a growing population with villagers that are expanding, new rural households will need supply connection. These households, known as late applicants, apply for electricity connection after their respective villages or longhouses were already electrified under the earlier Rural Electrification Scheme (RES) programmes,” explained Dr Rundi.
With large number of applications received through the respective district offices, the list of applicants will be organised for implementation in multi-phases and forwarded to Sarawak Energy. Sarawak Energy will subsequently arrange for appointment of consultants to conduct survey and inspection for the eligibility of the listed applicants.
To be eligible, the houses must be safe for connection and meet the minimum requirements of occupancy of at least one bedroom, living room, kitchen, and a toilet. Once eligibility is confirmed, the consultant studies the most effective design to connect the houses to the nearby electricity grid.
After the necessary verification and ground assessment with Sarawak Energy personnel, a pre-qualified contractor is deployed for construction works that may include installing additional poles, distribution lines and other necessary equipment to the houses. The internal wiring of the houses also needs to be checked and/or upgraded to ensure it complies with the safety requirements before the houses are connected with electricity supply.
However, a growing rural population and the continuous addition of new households have caused a long queue of applications for connection. To compound the issue, applications have been submitted for houses that are not ready as these have yet to begin construction or are still a long way to completion.
Datu Haji Sharbini Suhaili, Group Chief Executive Officer of Sarawak Energy said the company has appointed more external consultants for site assessment and contractors to speed up ALAF rural electrification connection efforts.
“We continue to expand the existing pool of qualified contractors to expedite the connection works while ensuring safety and quality of the works,” he said. As part of these efforts, Sarawak Energy in collaboration with the Ministry of Utilities Sarawak recently organised a briefing session to raise awareness among eligible contractors on ALAF tender processes and requirements.
“The session forms part of our ongoing programmes and initiatives to increase the number of contractors to expedite rural electrification projects. This programme also helps in building the capacity and competence of local contractors in Sarawak to acquire the necessary qualifications and knowledge to undertake electrical engineering projects. We hope more contractors will come forward to enable us to quicken the pace of implementation,” said Datu Sharbini.
Sarawak Energy has partnered with Bank Islam to assist contractors with financing to raise the capacity level of small contractors enabling them to take on bigger projects.
“With the whole state to cover, the work team has to operate multiple projects in parallel as well as sequentially moving from one ALAF area to another so fresh applicants unfortunately would need to wait for their turns. The ongoing efforts were further obstructed by the movement control restrictions due to COVID-19 in 2020 and early this year as site survey and community engagement were by and large suspended for long periods of time.
“The team has accelerated the efforts to connect these new homes, but the current list of applicants is non-exhaustive. When the team finishes in one area and moves on to the next, new houses are constructed in the completed areas and the team will need to return in future,” said Datu Sharbini.
For the ALAF initiative, to date the team is currently attending to about 18,000 applications of which 9,000 applications from around 700 villages are being referred to consultants in this month. At present, more than 2,000 households from 110 villages are in the midst of having their connection works done by 19 contractor teams and they are expected to be completed in this quarter. Another 1,500 households from 125 villages have been surveyed pending contractors to begin the connection works. In addition, close to 5,000 households from 360 villages are in the design phase to determine the most appropriate way to connect them.
“While we are adding to the panel of consultants and contractors, we also need to ensure that quality and safety of work is not compromised in any way. Whoever is engaged to come on board this project needs to be competent and familiar with our practices. Given the challenges we are facing to expedite the connections, we ask for the applicant’s understanding and patience,” he added.
To be eligible for ALAF, applicants need to fulfill certain criteria which is available at https://mou.sarawak.gov.my.
The Rural Electrification Scheme or RES involves extension of the grid system for rural households with road accessibility.
ALAF was conceptualised in 2018 by the Sarawak Government to assist new homeowners to connect to the existing rural distribution network