Putrajaya to rethink future power infrastructure projects for remote villages

Yeo Bee Yin (second left) speaking to villager Nousi Giun on the micro-hydro system in Kampung Terian, while Senator Adrian Lasimbang (left) looks on.

PENAMPANG: The federal government plans to do away with the practice of appointing contractors to build electricity systems in remote villages, and would instead encourage villagers to build and maintain community-run electricity generators.

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said this after visiting Kampung Terian, a small village in the Crocker Range, to learn about a community-run micro-hydro system to generate electricity.

The village is more than an hour’s drive through an offroad access.

Yeo said she was impressed with how villagers operated the system, which was built in 2004 with the help of a non-governmental organisation.

“It’s very impressive. You see how a community-run infrastructure can run so much longer.

“I have been to many villages and you will see that a lot of the things that break down are the ones built by outside contractors,” she said.

Kampung Terian, tucked deep inside the Crocker Range and only accessible through an offroad stretch.

The villagers in Kampung Terian were trained by Friends of Village Development (Tonibung) which developed the micro-hydro system.

Among others, they learned to operate and maintain the system without having to depend on contractors.

Yeo said the previous practice of appointing contractors to build electricity systems in remote villages was not efficient.

“The contractors come in and build expensive projects and then leave. And after a while, the system fails. That approach is not good enough – there’s no ownership to the infrastructure,” she added.

The micro-hydro system in Kg Terian was built in 2004 at a cost of RM180,000, and now powers up 25 households in the village.

“It is so much cheaper,” said Yeo. “We are really looking into that. We are looking at a few other villages, and with the right kind of model we want to scale it up. This is cheaper for the government and gives undisrupted power supply.”

She said her ministry will work with the rural development ministry to identify at least five interior villages in Sabah for the first quarter of this year to be part of the pilot project.