Hot and bothered: Power outage causes long queues under hot sun at Stadium Perpaduan vaccination centre

Vaccine recipients waiting under the shade of trees while their family members stood in line for them.

By Ling Hui

KUCHING, June 14: A temporary power outage and technical issues at the Stadium Perpaduan Covid-19 vaccination centre in Petra Jaya earlier today left people lining up for their vaccination appointments sweaty, hot and confused.

While the authorities and management team worked to sort out the sudden power disruption, many of those who have yet to get past the barrier into the waiting hall to fill in forms, register and get their vaccinations were trapped out under the blazing heat.

Those already in different sections of the waiting hall were deemed one step closer to getting their Covid-19 vaccine jabs as they only needed to register and wait to be called for their shots.

However, the situation was not as pleasant for those still outside the first barricade. At 3.13pm, among the distanced crowd there were people who had just arrived and there were also people who had been waiting to enter since 1pm.

“We don’t really know what the problem is, it is all a mess. No one has given any direction. We are just here wondering where to go or where to stand.

“Are we going to stand according to our appointment time or we just stand anywhere we like? Now we are here because there is a bit of shade,” said a woman in her fifties who had found a spot to take shelter from the heat under a tent.

Expressing her surprise to see the huge backlog of people outside the stadium when she arrived for her 3.30pm appointment, she said someone should have been there to inform the crowd of the reasons for the long queue.

“I was shocked. (The authorities) should not just keep quiet, people are ready to listen, but when you don’t (explain), people will assume and listen to all kinds of rumours.”

Similar complaints and murmurs of frustration were heard among those standing impatiently under the tents, squatting under trees and sitting on cement floors behind any tall structures able to offer some refuge from the harsh sunlight.

People sought and took whatever shade was afforded to them out of the harsh heat.

Amidst the mayhem, a group of three young males who seemed to have first met each other while in the queue were chatting away with umbrellas over their heads.

When asked whether they were queueing up to get themselves vaccinated, they said: “No, it’s not for us. We’re lining up for our elderly family members,” while pointing to nearby besides one of the tents where people were waiting in some shade.

As for the delay, they said they only knew there was “some sort of a power outage” and knew nothing of the rest of the situation because they were not informed.

Meanwhile, a volunteer at the stadium who was calling out for those with 1pm appointment times said it was his first time today experiencing such chaos.

He said the target of 4,000 doses of vaccines to be administered today is a big increase from the previous 1,500 doses per day, so this was one of the many reasons for the slow progress.

“We have a record of 4,000 doses today. Previously, per day doses were only at about 1,500. Today is the first day with so many doses, so the injection rate inside is not as fast as the flow of people coming in,” he told DayakDaily reporters when met in front of the stadium here today.

In response to the disarray earlier, the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC), in a statement today, confirmed that the crowding was due to unavoidable technical issues including a temporary power cut.

The committee said it has identified the cause of the issues, overcame the weaknesses in the system adopted and is taking action to resolve the issues and improve the entire system.

SDMC apologised for the inconveniences faced by the people who were at the stadium today. — DayakDaily