Sultan brings cheer to Belait residents
By Liza Mohamad

Six hundred and fifty housing recipients under Kg Panaga 2,000 Houses Project - a pilot project of the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) - received the keys to their new homes from His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday morning.

The handing-over ceremony was a testament to the monarch's long-term aspiration to provide affordable housing for his subjects, where the Brunei Government provides subsidies of between B$80,000 and B$100,000 for the construction of each house.

It also marked a significant milestone for the Housing Development Department, as the waiting period for housing applicants had been cut short by as much as 10 years with the successful completion of Kg Panaga 2,000 Houses Project, where the 2,000 houses were built within a record time of two years.

Under the Kg Panaga 2,000 Houses Project, recipients of the three-bedroom terraced houses (127.5 square metres) will only need to pay $45,000 (for a corner unit) and $43,000 (for those located in the middle). Recipients of the three-bedroom semi-detached houses (131.1 square metres) will meanwhile have to pay $62,000.

It is understood that the total cost for this mega project to build 2,000 houses was around $291 million.

Upon arrival at the newly-completed Belait Convention Centre, His Majesty was greeted by Minister of Development Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Suyoi bin Hj Osman and Belait District Officer Awang Matusin bin OKS Hj Tuba.

The Belait District Officer emphasised that yesterday's handing over ceremony was not only a big 'kurnia' for the housing recipients but also timely as the nation will be celebrating His Majesty's 65th birthday celebration in a few days' time.

"The presentation of housing keys to recipients of semi-detached and terraced units under the National Housing Scheme also reflects His Majesty's concern over the welfare and interest of the citizens and residents, particularly those living in Belait District," said Awang Matusin.

Following the presentation of keys to the 650 recipients, His Majesty proceeded to visit the residence of Kg Pandan C Village Head, Awang Haji Affandy bin Awang Damit in Kuala Belait. He was appointed in early 2009 to lead Kg Pandan C, which has a population of about 7,500.

After taking a closer look at the facilities of Sekolah Menengah Sayyidina Ali (SMSA) in Kg Pandan, the only Sixth Form centre in the district, His Majesty viewed the Kg Panaga model home, which was built to mark the commencement of the housing project that was contracted to Malaysian company Bina Puri Holdings in April 2009.

At the 140-hectare housing site, the monarch also visited the homes of four recipients of the semi-detached units and another four who got the terraced units. His Majesty also received a number of 'Junjung Ziarah' from other housing recipients.

Recipients under the Kg Panaga National Housing Scheme comprised those who applied for the scheme between 1994 and 2003.

It was learnt that a total of 3,970 homes be built in the district until 2014 - 334 units in Kg Lorong Tengah Seria, 1,494 units in Kg Lumut/Sungai Liang, 142 units in Kg Mumong and 2,000 units in Kg Panaga.

One thousand two hundred homes under the Kg Panaga Housing Project have been distributed to local recipients. A ceremony to present the keys to another 550 housing recipients is expected to take place next week. - Borneo Bulletin (13th July 2011)