PEKAN, PAHANG, MAY 4, 2013: Prime Minister, YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak brought joy to the Pekan Agropolitan participants in Tanjung Batu here today, when he fulfilled his recent promise with the delivery of two new school buses for the use of the participants’ children.

The school buses were contributed by Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia (YR1M), following the request made by the project participants to the Prime Minister during the launch of the East Coast Economic Region (ECER)’s Pekan Agropolitan project in Tanjung Batu last month.

The keys for both vehicles were handed over by the Chief Executive Officer of YR1M, Ms. Ung Su Ling to the representative of the Pekan Agropolitan, Tanjung Batu participants. Present to witness the event was Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John, Chief Executive Officer of the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC).

Tanjung Batu is third project site for the Government’s Agropolitan poverty eradication programme implemented via ECERDC in Pekan, after Runchang and Lepar. The Pekan Agropolitan, Tanjung Batu project is implemented by ECERDC in collaboration with the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA), which focuses on oil palm plantation as the primary economic activity.

When the Prime Minister learnt that participants in the Tanjung Batu Agropolitan had difficulty sending their children to school due to transportation issues, he made it his priority to address the matter immediately and has chosen YR1M to facilitate this need.

ECERDC Chief Executive Officer, YBhg. Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John said the two school buses will benefit 213 families who are taking part in ECER’s Pekan Agropolitan project in Tanjung Batu, who moved into their newly built houses in October 2012.

The school buses will be used to transport more than 250 Pekan Agropolitan children who are attending nearby primary and secondary schools. With the two buses, the Agropolitan participants can be rest assured that their children will get to school safely and on time, and the buses can also be used for recreational trips and outings.

For a start, ECERDC has organised a study trip for 100 primary school students to visit the recently renovated Muzium Sultan Abu Bakar in Pekan, who will be transported using the new buses.

The Pekan Agropolitan is part of the Agropolitan poverty eradication programme implemented by ECERDC on behalf of the Government. The Agropolitan project is in line with the Government’s Transformation Programme (GTP) and Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) that aim to create a high-income nation across all levels of the society.

Besides Pekan Agropolitan, ECERDC is also undertaking the South Kelantan Agropolitan project in Kelantan and Besut-Setiu Agropolitan in Terengganu.

Under this programme, hardcore poor families are given the opportunity to transform their lives through involvement in agriculture-related economic activities such as Dorper sheep rearing and oil palm plantation. The Pekan Agropolitan, Tanjung Batu participants, for instance, are now employed in a 1,352-hectare oil palm plantation project.

In addition to enjoying higher incomes, the participants and their families are now living in better conditions in their new houses built by ECERDC. The Pekan Agropolitan community in Tanjung Batu are also enjoying modern facilities and amenities such as surau, community hall, futsal court and kindergarten, among others.

Currently, the Pekan Agropolitan has a total of 415 participants, comprising 213 participants in Tanjung Batu, 100 participants in Batu 8 and 102 participants in Runchang. The numbers are set to grow by another 40 participants with the completion of houses currently under construction. A total of 40 homes are being built in Batu 8, and another 102 in Runchang.

Since the launch of Agropolitan Pekan pilot project in Runchang back in 2009, the average household income of Agropolitan Pekan participants have increased to RM1,100 per month from less than RM500 monthly before joining this project. The figure is expected to increase to RM5,000 a month by 2020.