‘Stop protesting. Miri City’s electricity supply reliability is at stake’

The year-long protest has affected the operation of the Miri Town Substation.

By Jaythaleela K

MIRI, Nov 5: The prolonged denial of entry at the Miri Town 33/11KV Substation by blockaders, claiming land rights over Canada Hill, continues to affect the reliable and safe functioning of the critical facility, which supplies the city’s central business district and its surrounding areas.

The area claimed includes the site on which the substation has been in operation for over 30 years. The group has been obstructing the duties of the operations team of Sarawak Energy’s operations arm, Syarikat Sesco Berhad, to the extent of denying access into the premises.

An extension project located adjacent to the existing substation has been at a standstill for close to a year now. The new indoor substation was initially targeted to be commissioned in August this year, but construction had to stop due to the blockade as well as a matter of safety to all.

The project is a critical component of Sarawak Energy’s RM1 billion investment in the Miri Power Supply Reinforcement Plan to upgrade the supply system to meet rapid expansion and rising electricity demand of the people of Miri.

The delay has also incurred cost over-runs for this new extension project.

The state-owned energy developer-cum-power utility has worked with the assistance of and support from relevant authorities to reach out to the land claimants on several occasions to explain the criticality of the substation to ensure supply reliability to the people of Miri.

Despite continued appeals for their cooperation from all parties, the protestors have further resisted. The group has also padlocked the substation gates, and this has caused delay in supply restoration during an outage.

In August this year, supply restoration to an outage affecting Miri City was delayed for about four hours due to this blockade. The technical team only managed to enter the substation to do their job with assistance from the police.

A total of five police reports have since been lodged on the situation affecting Miri Town Substation.

Sarawak Energy reiterates that projects to modernise electricity infrastructure must be completed on schedule and on budget; otherwise, the risk remains of having a system that cannot cope with the growing demands of the state, leading to inadequate power supply and reduced reliability.

Sarawak Energy respects the rights of individuals and organisations in expressing their point of view but requests that this be done in a manner that is lawful and does not jeopardise the safe operations of its facilities and the safety of its personnel, who are carrying out their duties to ensure reliable supply to the people. — DayakDaily