A bigger service centre for Ulu Merapok — Awang Tengah

LAWAS: The proposed Ulu Merapok Service Centre project will be expanded to include more facilities as the planned components are expected to be rolled out towards the end of this year following the completion of the road infrastructures.

The existing site of six acres would be expanded to make room for provision of housing facilities to complement this service centre.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan on Friday said the various components include the facilities and infrastructure to house government agencies which will serve the people in Ulu Merapok near the border with neighbouring Sabah.

“We want to bring the government services nearer to the people and this would serve as a mini RTC (rural transformation centre) for Ulu Merapok region,” he said.

There would be lock-up shops to promote entrepreneurship and business orientation and marketing of local goods, food processing of agriculture products from Merapok fruit belt.

Awang Tengah, who is also Minister of Industrial and Entrepreneurs Development and Second Minister of Urban Development and Resources, said adding value to products from the fertile lands of Merapok would be emphasised to boost income and promote cottage industry among the communities here.

Ulu Merapok is home to the Kedayans, Tagals and Lun Bawang communities living in their respective villages which are now well-connected by tar-sealed road from the upcoming Pan Borneo Highway and just next door to Sindumin in Sabah.

The deputy chief minister has been prodding the local community to take advantage of the better road connectivity and  the various government plans to upgrade the facilities and infrastructure here to promote a more vibrant and value-added rural economy in Ulu Merapok.

The service centre is part of the development plans rolled out in bringing services of  government departments and agencies closer to the rural communities in Lawas District, with police presence, health and administration among those proposed.

Awang Tengah inspected the site at Kampung Sasa with Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumerism Datuk Henry Sum Agong, Land Custody and Development Agency (LCDA) general manager Datuk Sajeli Kipli, Limbang Divisional Land and Survey Department Superintendent Awang Nazri, Lawas District Officer Hussaini Hakim, community leaders and village representatives.

Later, he proceeded to Sungai Tagas to release 4,000 fries of Ikan Lampan Jawa species as part of the Agriculture Department’s efforts to boost fish population for the benefit of the local communities here.

“This is important as the fish is a source of protein and income to the riverine communities in Ulu Merapok, and this exercise is also about inculcating awareness of the importance of keeping our rivers healthy and ensure that it is not contaminated,” he said.

The Department has released 19,000 fish fries into designated rivers since Nov 15 last year to boost the population of fish in Lawas district.