KUCHING, May 16: Sarawak Energy Berhad (Sarawak Energy) expressed concern over the frequent recurrence of vandalism and copper theft incidents in the state, with the latest attempt causing a significant outage to Satok, Astana, Samariang and Santubong areas yesterday around 5.50pm.
In the incident, four main 33kV cables located in a drainage culvert near Matang Emart were believed to be burnt in an attempt to cut and extract copper from the cables.
Sarawak Energy said in a statement today that the cables serve to connect supply from the Matang EHV Substation, to Astana and Satok Substations.
A Sarawak Energy technical team managed to restore supply to the affected customers within five minutes through alternative feeders, in time for Muslim customers in the areas to break their fast with lights on.
A police report has been lodged over this incident for further investigations.
Sarawak Energy’s vice-president for Distribution Siti Aisah Adenan expressed her appreciation to the Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) for their swift response and assistance in controlling the situation.
“The damage caused by this irresponsible act is very extensive and it may take up to two weeks for us to lay new cables. What makes it difficult is most of the cables are beneath the road after road widening projects took place.
“We hope this can be completed before Gawai and Hari Raya celebrations to ensure we have enough alternative feeders to cater for emergencies such as this,” said Siti Aisah.
Raising concern over the matter, Siti Aisah said vandalism and copper theft incidences are more rampant during festive seasons.
“It is disappointing that the festive moods are ruined by unnecessary outages. Therefore, we seek the cooperation from members of the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious characters lurking around electrical facilities.
“To ensure continuous, uninterrupted supply to customers during the upcoming festive celebrations, we have teams on standby to act promptly should technical issues arise during the upcoming Gawai and Hari Raya.
“Rest assured that we will do our best to restore supply the fastest possible should such an unfortunate incident occur.
“Sarawak Energy has put in place mitigation measures and also increase awareness to hinder vandalism and theft at its facilities; however it is sad to see that such incident still happens.”
“We advise those who find electrical facilities as targets to make quick cash not to risk their lives for small gains. They are not only putting themselves in danger, but also causing inconveniences to others due to outages,” she said.
Since last year, Sarawak Energy recorded 163 cases of vandalism and copper thefts with damages amounting to RM2 million.
Siti Aisah said being too close to electric facilities is dangerous and stealing cables can result in flashovers or electrocution, burns and even fatality.
She added there have been a few fatality cases in failed attempts to steal copper in live cables and these regretful incidents are tragic examples that stealing cables is not worth the risk.
“They should have thought of their loved ones,” said Siti Aisah.
In January this year in Miri, a man died from serious burns due to electrocution in an attempt to steal copper at Tudan Substation, and last year at Pasir Pandak here, a man was found stuck on top of an electrical pole in a tragic incident that took his life.
“Sarawak Energy will continue to work closely with the police, increase patrols to our facilities and hardening targets to curb these incidences. We need continuous public assistance to be our eyes and ears to ensure that no one else will fall victim to such incident,” she assured.
The public may contact Sarawak Energy’s 24-hour Customer Care Centre at 1300-88-3111 which operates seven days a week, or immediately call the nearest police station.
Reports can also be logged with SEBcares, Sarawak Energy’s mobile app. — DayakDaily