Belait relocates over 100 families

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OVER 100 families from shanty areas in Belait are in the process of being relocated to refurbished government barrack houses across the district.

The move – initiated by the Belait District Office in collaboration with several government departments – has seen renovations made to 62 government barracks in Lorong 3, Seria, Jln Mumong, Jln Lorong Bolkiah and Jalan Mumut.

Nineteen families previously residing as squatters in Kg Api-Api, Kg Baru and Kg Jabang have already been relocated.

A total of 152 families will be relocated to nine separate barrack housing areas across Belait - 88 from Kg Jabang, 38 from Kg Api Api, 21 from Sg Baru and five from Lorong 14.

Another 102 barrack units will be renovated by the end of 2015, said the Belait District Officer Hj Haris Othman.

Although the traditional criteria for securing residence at government barracks requires a family member to be a civil servant, the Belait district officer said this had been waived in view of the increas-ing number of vacant lots.

“Many of the families living here have been able to secure homes elsewhere, especially under the national housing scheme.

“Instead of just leaving these areas empty, which has left them prone to being vandalised by irresponsible parties, the district office under the Ministry of Home Affairs has been working hard to ready these homes for those in need,” he added.

The issue of squatters and illegal housing in several villages – particularly Kg Jabang – has been a longstanding issue affecting the district, with the former district officer Matusin Orang Kaya Sura Hj Tuba admitting in 2011 that his office had difficulty relocating residents. “We plan to address the Kg Jabang issue by transferring the residents to the barrack housing in a phase by phase basis, and then slowly demolish the old (shanty) houses.

“Once the land is clear, we are looking at turning the village into a recreational park,” he added.

Speaking to The Brunei Times yesterday, families from Kg Jabang now living in government barrack houses expressed their gratitude to the government and the district office, noting that the availability of clean water and electricity had made a significant change to their quality of life.

Faridah Anak Sawal, who now stays at Jln Bolkiah, said her son's health markedly improved after their relocation a few months ago, claiming that fumes from their diesel generator in Kg Jabang had caused her son to faint on a num-ber of occasions.

“We applied for housing back in 2010,” she said. “As me and my husband are only permanent residents we were lower priority. When my son started having health problems and began to faint, I pleaded to the district office to offer a place to stay.”

The Brunei Times