Resettlement longhouses in Bakun in urgent need of upgrade

MIRI: The resettlement longhouses in Bakun in central Sarawak is in urgent need of upgrade as some of the facilities such as internal wiring and the building of firebreaks need to be done as soon as possible.

Bakun community elder Patrick Sawing said there have been at least four major fire-outbreaks in the Bakun longhouses since the dam project was started in 1996.

“Our longhouses are made entirely of wooden materials that were built more than 20 years ago by the government.

Most of the longhouses are also very long with up to 100 units built adjoining each other.

There is urgent need for the state authorities and the wakil rakyat to look into upgrading the longhouses to improve on fire safety and wirings.

“Currently, any fire outbreak can spread if not controlled within minutes,” he said.

Yesterday morning, Uma Bakung, a resettlement longhouse located 50kms from the Bakun Dam - was destroyed in a fire.

Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department in its latest updates at noon said firefighters rushed to the site located about 200km from the nearest town of Bintulu.

It is not known how many families are affected or what caused the fire.

Uma Bakung is one of 15 resettlement longhouses built in 1996 to house the 10,000 Bakun community that were uprooted due to the construction of the mega dam.

In the meantime, the welfare authorities and church groups are preparing urgent relief aid deployment for the fire victims.

It is said that at least 200 people were left with only the clothes they wore.