Bintulu rapid physical development started in the early 1980s trigger exodus of migrant workers flocking to what was once only a small fishing villages with few row of wooden shop-houses.
The oil and gas projects in Kidurong areas eg. MLNG1-2 partially responsible for the flourishing squatter settlements – Sg Sebatang, Sg. Plan, Masako, Hock Peng etc. The influx of unskilled labor were forced to build their own shelters as there were shortages of housing and rental were skyrocketing in Bintulu, then.
It was only in the late 1990s that the government responded by building more houses, via housing projects known as Rancangan Perumahan Rakyat (RPR) such as RPR Sibiew, RPR Kidurong and RPR Sg. Plan.
However it’s not easy nor cheap for these squatters relocating to these housing projects. Despite the sorry state of their squatter’s dwelling – it’s rent free. Many actually have access to electricity, water – the only plus points the see of moving to housing schemes.
Unless government can come up with more attractive schemes, squatter settlement such as those along Sibiew river in the above photos will continue to thrive.