SEB reissues safety advisory following Pasir Pandak cable theft fatality

Destruction of a transformer at Assar Senari in an attempt to steal the copper cables.

KUCHING, May 4: Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) issued a reminder of the danger of proximity to electrical facilities following the tragic incident that claimed the life of a suspected cable thief at Kampung Pasir Pandak on Tuesday night.

The suspect was found trapped at the top of an electrical pole and required power to be shut off to Pasir Pandak and the surrounding areas, Semariang and parts of Santubong in order to facilitate rescue efforts by the Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba).

SEB’s technical team from operations and retail arm Syarikat SESCO Berhad (SESCO) was deployed to the scene and shut down power to the area for the rescue operation to be carried out safely.

The suspect was taken to Sarawak General Hospital for treatment but later succumbed to his injuries.

In a press statement yesterday, preliminary investigation indicated that the pole’s copper earthing wires were already cut off at the scene at time of discovery.

Also found at the scene were tools believed to have been used by the suspect in an attempt to steal cables.

SESCO chief executive officer Lau Kim Swee in that statement said the latest incident showed that thieves were getting bolder every day, and reiterated the power utility’s safety reminder on the danger of close contact with electrical facilities and equipment.

“Stealing cables is dangerous and can result in electrical flashovers or electrocution, causing serious burns or death. This regretful incident is a tragic example to show potential thieves that it is truly not worth the risk.

“I would like to remind everyone not to get too close if you are not authorised to do so. The safety clearance from overhead lines is at least 4.6m (15 feet),” he said.

Damaged cables at Abang Kipali roundabout in Kuching due to attempted theft, causing power disruption in Matang all the way to Santubong recently.

Expressing his concern over the frequency of cable theft cases, Lau said such cases could lead to tragic outcomes such as the recent incident.

In addition to causing inconvenience to the community living in the surrounding area due to power interruptions, cable theft was dangerous to the thieves themselves.

SEB has recorded more than 500 cases of copper cable thefts since 2015 despite an annual expenditure of over RM1 million in mitigation measures.

In the past three years, cable theft alone has resulted in losses of nearly RM7 million to the company.

“SEB’s mission is to deliver reliable, secure electricity supply to our customers throughout Sarawak. In doing this, we ask for the public’s continuous assistance and cooperation – please report any suspicious activities near electrical facilities. Your prompt action will help us to curb this dangerous crime.

“SEB will continue to work closely with the police, increase our site patrols and harden the targets such as reinforcing security measures at our substations and facilities,” said Lau.

The public can contact SEB’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 through the SEBcares mobile app for both iOS and Android. — DayakDaily