Stealing cables extremely dangerous, warns Sarawak Energy

Vandalised equipment found at a Sarawak Energy facility in Kuching.

KUCHING, Jan 12: Copper theft at Sarawak Energy’s electrical facilities is a dangerous crime, causing injuries and taking lives.

So far this year, a suspect who is believed to be attempting to steal copper from Tudan substation in Miri died.

In Kuching in May 2018,  a copper-theft suspect was electrocuted atop an electrical pole in Pasir Pandak.

Sarawak Energy Group chief executive officer Datu Sharbini Suhaili lamented that despite awareness campaigns and mitigation measures, incidents of vandalism and theft at electrical facilities were still happening.

Damaged transformers after it was vandalised. This also caused power interruption to nearby areas.

“Being too close to live electrical facilities is extremely dangerous, and stealing cables can result in flashovers or electrocution, burns and even death. These regretful incidents are tragic examples of how stealing cables is not worth the risks,” he cautioned in a statement today.

On the Jan 2 incident in Miri, Sarawak Energy’s remote monitoring system triggered an alert on a power trip at Tudan substation to Kuala Baram. The technical crew dispatched to the substation found a man suffering serious burns from a flashover. Further checks on the site found that one of the cables was cut.

“The man, who had no identification with him, was taken to Miri Hospital for treatment, but he later succumbed to his injuries on Jan 5.”

Sharbini said his office would continue to work closely with the police to curb such incidents.

Close cooperation with the police, constant patrol and public tip-off have led to several arrests.

“But we also need continuous public assistance to inform us of any suspicious individuals near our facilities. This can avoid unnecessary power interruptions or even fatalities.”

From 2016 to 2018, a total of 369 vandalism cases were reported in the state, causing RM5.33 million worth of damage. An average of 12 cases per month was recorded last year.

Sarawak Energy has stepped up efforts to mitigate the problem, including installing remote monitoring systems and increasing patrols. In some areas, the measures have shown positive results. In Miri, recorded cases went down from 24 in 2017 to five in 2018.

Sarawak Energy and the police are also jointly carrying out checks at recycling centres to deter trade in stolen copper cables among second-hand dealers.

The public can 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