Reckless third party excavations causing outages, says Sarawak Energy

Damaged underground cable at Jalan Nyabau, Bintulu.

KUCHING, April 13: Sarawak Energy said third-party excavations remain one of the main causes of outages in Sarawak. It urges contractors to check underground cable routes with their power utility arm before commencing work.

The latest incident occurred on April 8, and it affected electricity supply to about 1,800 customers in Bintulu, including Bintulu Hospital. The problem was caused by a damaged 33kV underground cable along Jalan Nyabau due to third-party excavation works for a rural project.

Sarawak Energy received the outage report at 10.50am, and supply to all affected areas was fully restored within an hour through alternative feeders.


“Up to today, we have recorded 59 outages caused by excavation cases since 2016, amounting to RM400,000 in damage for Bintulu alone. For Sarawak as a whole, the damage caused has reached close to RM3 million with 352 cases recorded as at March this year,” said Sesco Bhd Chief Executive Officer Lau Kim Swee.

This damaged 33kV underground cable affected electricity supply to about 1800 customers, including Bintulu Hospital.

He explained that in most cases that involved underground cables, it normally took quite some time to locate the fault, especially at night. That would delay restoration.

“This incident happened during the day, allowing us to locate the fault quickly. The area also has alternative feeders that contributed to fast restoration of within one hour.

“Damaged cables during excavation works also pose a danger to the workers and public within the vicinity. Despite constant reminders to contractors who work close to electrical installations and area with critical lines, this continues to happen,” he said.

Lau also advised contractors to check the cable route with Sarawak Energy to make sure everything was safe, follow the guidelines, and not to assume the location or depth of the underground cables.

“Taking these basic precautionary measures will avoid many unwanted incidents and keep the lights on for the people of Sarawak. This will also ensure the safety of the contractors and their workers. We want everybody to go home safely,” added Lau.

Urging contractors to work closely with Sarawak Energy, Lau also said that all these incidents could be avoided if contractors practised proper planning, consultation and precautionary measures.

He said that Sarawak Energy staff were also taking proactive initiatives to visit construction sites, advising contractors to check before they excavate. Notices and reminders are also issued to contractors as part of the preventive measures.

Contractors found to have caused damage to electrical facilities will be required to pay for the repair work and may also face prosecution in court.

In addition, a report will be sent to the Electrical Inspectorate Unit of the Ministry of Utilities and the Department of Occupational Safety and Health for record.

To avoid unnecessary inconvenience, contractors can contact Sarawak Energy’s technical team at 1300-88-3111 or email for assistance to check on cable routes before excavation works commence. — DayakDaily