Vester Selo

SIBU: The longhouse folk in Sungai Ngemah, Kanowit want the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to carry out a survey on telecommunication service coverage in their area, similar to the one that the commission is planning to conduct over Pakan.

Vester Selo from Rumah Taboh Rimau in the Nanga Ngungun Resettlement Scheme said poor telecommunication service was a near-monthly occurrence for residents of the 24 longhouses in the area.

“When it happens, it would sometimes last for more than a week.

“The latest was during Hari Raya and Gawai Dayak where we experienced lost network signal from around 5pm until 8am the next day. This happened each day,” he said when contacted via WhatsApp yesterday.

As a student of a higher learning institute, Vester, who returned to his longhouse during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period, said the poor coverage had affected his ability to carry out his assignments as well as attend online classes.

“The 4G is available, but the signal is very weak and unstable although the (telecommunication) tower is just nearby. Sometimes I have to go to Kanowit town just to get better Internet coverage,” he added.

Last Friday, the MCMC had announced that it would be conducting a survey at a village in Pakan to assess the difficulties faced by locals and the students on the ground in obtaining communication service coverage.

It said the results of the survey would be utilised for a telecommunication development plan planned for the area, to enable the people to enjoy quality communication service and improve their living standards.

For Rumah Sali Kirak resident Nur Sabrina Abdullah, she suggested that MCMC would allow other telecommunication operators to provide 4G services in Nanga Ngungun.

The service, according to her, is currently only available through one telco operator.

“We filed complaints for lost signal issue via the MCMC website and the feedback received from the service provider stated that the problem happened because of network congestion due to high usage by consumers at a time.

“We were informed that the telecommunication tower at Bukit Melapi could no longer accommodate the growing number of users in Nanga Ngungun and its surrounding areas,” she said, adding the service provider also stated that a suggestion to improve the network coverage in the area had been forwarded to the authority for consideration.

Much like those in Nanga Ngungun, those living in Nanga Nirok, Nanga Bitan and Nanga Bat were also facing telecommunication problems, said Tuai Rumah Ijau Ikok.

Ijau, who hailed from Nanga Nirok, said the service at his longhouse was so poor that its residents, especially the youngsters, would gather at his father-in-law’s ‘tanju’ (verandah) just to access the Internet.

“They would gather almost every afternoon until the night to go online because my father-in-law’s ‘tanju’ is where the 4G signal is the strongest.

“If they sit elsewhere, they will get ‘E’ or ‘G’ displayed on their mobile signal bar indicator,” he said.

Another Nanga Nirok resident, Rata Sumping from Rumah Siling, related that during the Gawai Dayak celebration, villagers of her longhouse experienced lost network signal from 5pm until the following morning.

She expressed hope that the MCMC, after carrying out its survey on Pakan, would continue on to Sungai Ngemah to see for themselves the situation faced by the local folk.

“More importantly, of course, is that action is taken once the survey is completed so that the problem faced by the people with regard to poor telecommunication service could be resolved,” she said.

More than 5,000 longhouse residents downriver Sungai Ngemah and its surrounding areas have been getting access to 4G services after the commissioning of two telecommunication towers in Bukit Melapi and Nanga Bitan in 2012.