Bunut - the 1st Perpindahan

Tomorrow's Golden Legacy column on Brunei Times will be my article on the history of public housing in Brunei. I wish I had more words but I am limited to about 1,000 words and that's not a lot. When I first started writing for BT, the column space I had was limited to 800 words (about 3 column space) but I regularly submitted about 1,200 words (now with one or two photographs, about half a page).

It is interesting that despite the government's efforts as early as 1906 when the British Resident declared that he would like Bruneians to move onto dry land, no systematic efforts were made to do so. It was not until 1952 when the first systematic program was made to move a group of villagers from Kampong Pengiran Bendahara Lama in Kampong Ayer to Kampong Bunut in Mukim Kilanas. The area that was allocated for the program was some 56 acres.

Twenty eight families were allocated two acres each. This enabled them to build a house and to plant fruit trees. The mostly wooden houses were built by the villagers themselves without any supervision from the authorities. The resettlement area began to be lived in by the new settlers from November 1952 onwards.

Even though the settlers had to build the houses themselves, they were given financial incentives. Each family was given $100 for demolishing their Kampong Ayer houses which they left behind, $100 to help them move to Bunut, $100 for cleaning their area and another $100 to cover the cost of the move. On top of that, while waiting for their fruit trees to grow and provide for the owners, the government gave each family $2 a day for 18 months.

Bunut has changed a lot since then and if you drive around the area, you could not have imagine it being a resettlement area compared to the Lambak Kanan or Rimba housing estates that you see nowadays. But nevertheless Bunut remain the first resettlement area and the fruits of the first government's efforts to provide housing for everyone in the country.

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