Life for the residents of three remote villages on Banggi Island, off here, is set to change for the better thanks to the solar-powered energy system recently installed at their homes.

A team of local journalists, including this writer, spent two days on the island to witness the installation of the system and see for themselves the villagers’ excitement as they turned on their solar-powered lights for the first time.

All the while, these villagers, who are mostly traditional fishermen, relied on “pelitaan” or “pelita” or kerosene lamps, as well as diesel generator sets for lights. However, these are unsustainable due to the high maintenance and fuel costs.

The system, funded by Petronas, was installed by its subsidiary, Petronas Floating LNG (PFLNG), at 140 houses in Kampung Dogoton, Kampung Semayan and Kampung Rahmat, located on the northern end of Banggi, the country’s largest island.

In February 2023, PFLNG successfully marked the start of the clean energy initiative by installing the system at the prayer halls (surau) in the three villages.

Frigie Matibol, 30, a teacher at Sekolah Kebangsaan Semayan, said that the installation of the system will positively impact students’ academic performance as they can now do their revisions at home for a longer period of time under the glow of solar-powered lights.

“With the solar-powered lights, they can study at night without relying on pelita,” says Frigie, who has been teaching Bahasa Melayu at the remote school for the last seven years

Relaxing under the shade of a low-branching mango tree at the compound of his wooden house at Kampung Rahmat, 65-year-old fisherman Abirul Bakir smiled as he spoke about the newly installed system in his home.

“I’m grateful to Petronas for providing us with the solar energy system for free. I’m just an ordinary fisherman and I have no fixed income. The solar facility will certainly lighten our burden,” said Abirul.

PFLNG Chief Executive Officer Azrul Roshazli said that as a responsible corporate citizen and a progressive cleaner energy solution partner, Petronas remains committed to enriching the lives of the communities where it operates.

The Petronas’ Uplifting Lives - Rays of Hope social impact programme is aimed at helping the remote community gain access to low-carbon energy.

The installation of the system in the three villages has now been completed, well ahead of the targeted schedule, which is next month, benefiting some 700 residents from the Bajau Ubian community living on the far end of the island.

Banggi Island is part of the Tun Mustapha Marine Park, the largest marine protected area and multi-use park in Malaysia.

The island is located over an hour's boat ride from Kudat, about 190 km northeast of Kota Kinabalu, the Sabah state capital.

Dim lights at night are now a thing of the past for the three villages, and laughter and conversations can be heard filling the air long after dusk as quiet ambience sets in with the humming of generator sets gone.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency