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Sri Aman, Benak's Development Wave

Thursday, 18 April 2013





The Tidal Bore Carnival or Pesta Benak in the Sri Aman town is one of the annual activities in the Sarawak tourism calendar.

During the festival, the usually quiet town by the banks of Batang Lupar, the river where the legendary crocodile Bujang Senang was said to have dwelled, thousands of visitors, including thousands of those from outside Sarawak and even the country would converge to witness the various events held at the time of the natural phenomenon of tidal bores.

Apart from the organising of the yearly festival, Sri Aman is also the natural hub for most tourists that wish to visit the many traditional Iban longhouses in the Sri Aman Division, and observe the customary way of life of that ethnic group.

With the state and the nation well moving towards progress over the years, the waves of development had touched Sri Aman as well, and the local population would definitely benefit from these ripples of development.

Earlier this year, Sarawak Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud spoke of how the federal government has allocated more than RM400 million for the implementation of several mega projects in Sri Aman during the previous three years, for the benefit of the Sri Aman people.

Talking to the Sri Aman locals during in function also attended by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the town earlier this year, Taib said the projects include the construction of the RM200 million Sri Aman new hospital, the upgrading works of the Bayai Water Treatment Plant in Empango, costing RM43 million and the Rural Electrification Supply (RES) projects with the federal financing of RM160 million.

Taib also mentioned about the plans to develop several roads linking the town to the rural areas adjacent to Sri Aman town to further boost palm oil cultivation.



The hospital, which will have sophisticated medical equipments for specialists and doctors to treat patients, is to be completed in 2016, while the water treatment plant will be ready for operation in May 2014.



In the meantime, eleven Gravity Feed Water Supply projects for Sri Aman District are being planned by the government with an estimated cost of RM1.54 million for the year 2012, while another ten would be development for the years 2013 and 2014 with an allocation of RM1.78 million, bringing the total allocation to M3.32 million.

State assemblyman for Simanggang Datuk Francis Harden Hollis had said the first phase of the new township, just near the old Sri Aman town, would be completed soon to offer tourists and visitors better lodging and shopping facilities during their stay.

“The new township will bring this little town alive and potential visitors can look forward to their visits. In addition, Sri Aman will finally have a three-star hotel and hopefully, this will lure more people to come and stay longer, especially during the Tidal Bore Festival which is held once a year,” he said.

THE TOWN WHERE PEACE WAS SEALED

The Sri Aman District is one of the two districts within its namesake division; the other one is Lubok Antu. Once, just like Sri Aman the town, Sri Aman the district was known as Simanggang, the administrative centre for the then Second Division of Sarawak. The district itself also contains two sub-districts; Pantu and Lingga.

Starting from March 1974 though, the name ‘Sri Aman’ was adopted for the town and district, and eventually the division, marking the historic Sri Aman Declaration, a peace treaty signed between the Sarawak government and communist insurgents on October 21, 1973 at the town.

With an area of 3,848 kilometer square, the Sri Aman district has a population of 66,000, of which more than 10,000 live around the Sri Aman town.

The Ibans are the largest ethnic group in the district, amounting to more than 62 percent of the total population, followed by Malays (23 percent) and Chinese (14 percent).

Having based their economy from agriculture for generations, the local population is still concentrating on agricultural activities for their livelihood.

Therefore, cultivation of oil palm, rice, rubber, pepper, sago and cocoa are the main activities for the locals of Sri Aman, apart from some being involved themselves in the fishing industry.

EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT IN SRI AMAN

For the development of education in Sri Aman Division in general, a community college is on the pipeline, which will also assist in the skill development for the youth in the division.

Sri Aman MP, Masir Kujat had once reminded about the importance of education to the local population, especially the rural communities living in villages and longhouses throughout the district and the division in general, suggesting the setting up of education bureaus in their respective places.

Such bureaus would be catalysts for the longhouses and villages to create high-quality human capital in the future.

“We must not neglect the development of these education bureaus. This is because they will provide opportunities for our younger generation to further their study after school,” Masir said during a function organized by the Rumah Lanchum Dagang, Sungai Tenggang, Pantu JKKK in Sri Aman in October 2011.

These bureaus, he added, would indirectly help creating a bigger professional workforce, especially for the development of Sarawak Corridor of Renewal Energy (SCORE).
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