Contractors’ failure cause of school blackout

MIRI: The failure of the previous batch of 30 contractors to supply fuel to schools before the expiry of their contract was the reason why 369 rural schools in Sarawak were unable to start their generator sets, said Ministry of Education (MoE).

In a statement issued yesterday, the ministry said the contractors were given the contract to provide electricity to these schools for 2015-2016.

“Following checks by MoE on all these schools, the supply of electricity has been restored fully by the appointed contractors with effect from 1 January, 2017,” it said.

The ministry was responding to yesterday’s report in The Borneo Post entitled ‘Blackout hits 369 rural schools’.

The Borneo Post had reported that these schools were running low or out of fuel when school re-opened due to dispute between the contractors and the ministry on refilling the tanks before the expiry of their contracts on Dec 31 last year.

A meeting failed to avert the shortage of fuel which is needed by these schools to run generator sets to power fans, water pumps, computers and other electrical appliances.

The issue worried parents who voiced their concern and anger at the authorities for failing to avert such incident, prompting Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau to call for immediate steps to be taken to supply fuel to the affected schools.

Meanwhile, sources on the ground said fuel reserves at SK Long Atip, SK Lg. Wat, SK Long Seridan and SK Batu Bungan in Mulu will run out today while the status of the stock at SK Long Bangawas was unknown as at press time.

Each of these schools has a 5,000-litre storage tank, and one was reported to have barely an inch depth of fuel left in the tank at dusk yesterday.

Sources in Baram said only two of the 59 schools were replenished with fuel by the contractor as of December 31 and the newly appointed contractor had started mobilising supplies since Jan 1.

However, the remoteness of these rural schools in Baram pose an obstacle to fill up the tanks, causing SK Long Banga, SK Long Lamei, SK Sungai Setapang and SK Long Panai to run out of fuel yesterday.

Meanwhile, the appointed contractor will hold a press conference in Kuching to clarify the matter today.