Dreams come true for citizens
By Liza Mohd

Sixty-five Bruneians saw their lifelong wishes of owning a home and land realised when His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam awarded land lots and house keys to successful recipients under the National Housing Scheme for Belait District at the Liang Lumut Recreational Club yesterday morning.

It has been His Majesty's aspiration to fulfil his subjects' needs to own an affordable home through the National Housing Scheme.

Three recipients were awarded with land lots (one under the Kampong Pandan National Housing Scheme and two under the Kampong Lumut/Sungai Liang National Housing Scheme).

Out of the 62 key recipients, 17 were awarded with deluxe type housing and 45 standard type housing under the Kampong Lumut/Sungai Liang National Housing Scheme.

The Belait District Officer Haji Jamain bin Momin in his welcoming address said that the presence of His Majesty at the ceremony in itself was an invaluable award and tribute, which was of utmost significance and meaningful to the recipients.

"The presentation mirrors His Majesty's concern, care and affection for his subjects," the district officer added.

He said the presentation of houses and land lots will go a long way in improving the quality of life of the recipients and further solidify their undivided loyalty towards His Majesty.

Under the national housing scheme in Kampong Lumut/Sungai Liang, which kick started in 2000, over 2,100 houses are to be built.

Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Development Awang Haji Mohd Rozan bin Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yunos said earthworks, building infrastructure and construction of homes were awarded to different local small and medium companies. But he added that the awarding of contracts to different companies tends to delay the process. Therefore, the Housing Development Department is awarding tenders for companies to execute the total construction work and site clearance to speed up the process.

"The removal of peat in the area to pave way for the construction of homes seems to be the major challenge for contractors considering most areas in the district is covered by peat swamp."

A senior housing development officer said from the 5,054 citizens waiting for houses and land grants in the district from 1980 to 2008, a total of 1,781 applicants have been awarded houses (1,273 applicants) and land lots (508 applications) from the year 1980 to 1992 under the National Housing Plan Kampong Pandan and Kampong Lumut.

The department has recorded 3,144 applicants on the waiting list to receive houses and land lots in the district from 1992 to 2002. A total of 1,558 applicants are currently being assessed on their eligibility.

Another housing project taking shape in the district is the construction of 2,000 cost-effective houses, which is a B$289-million pilot project under Brunei Economic Development Board (BEBD) near the Kampong Mumong roundabout and is due for completion sometime in April next year.

In addition, the Lorong Tengah Seria National Housing project under the Housing Development Department, the earthworks for which have been completed, will be able to accommodate 2,451 applicants.

The Lorong Tengah Seria housing plan will see the construction of 1,077 semi-detached houses and 1,444 terrace houses.

Both projects under the National Housing Department and BEDB will increase the number of newly built houses aimed at providing houses for every family in the Sultanate.

The Ministry of Development through the Housing Development Department and Public Works Department plans to build more than 12,000 houses to be completed under the National Housing Scheme and Landless Scheme under the 2007/2012 National Development Plan.

After the presentation of house keys and land lots, His Majesty visited private residences of penghulus and village leaders in the district and checked on the Sungai Liang water treatment plant and Sungai Seria water pump station.

The monarch also visited the Balai Raya Kampong Lumut 1 to view projects to assist single mothers in the Mukim. His Majesty also toured the only Arabic School in Kampong Sungai Tarin where the ruler toured classrooms and viewed facilities available at the school. - Borneo Bulletin (20th January 2010)