NEWS & UPDATES
Outage in Bau and Lundu Caused by Underground Cables Damaged by Pan Borneo Highway Contractor
Sarawak Energy Urges Contractors to Check for Underground Cables Prior to Excavation Works
30 MAY 2021
Excavation works by a third-party Pan Borneo Highway contractor damaged 33kV underground cables and interrupted power supply to Sarawak Energy customers along Bau-Lundu Road on 27 May.
The power utility immediately deployed its technical team and successfully restored supply to approximately 1,600 affected customers within an hour via alternative supply sources.
Cable repair works commenced on the same day after the contractors at fault were issued warning letters and stop-work orders. The letters were also copied to the Ministry of Utilities Sarawak, Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), and the project owner for further action.
“Fortunately, we have circuit breakers in place that cut off electricity supply when the 33kV underground cable was hit by the excavator, minimising electrocution risks to the vehicle operator and those working in the surrounding area,” said Regional Manager for Sarawak Energy Western Region Choo Min Chong.
“We take safety seriously, and we want the contractors to do the same. By issuing warning letters and extending copies to the relevant authorities, we want to ensure that contractors make safety their top priority when carrying out excavation works. In cases like this due to their carelessness and poor attitude, all repair costs will be borne by the contractors responsible for the cable damage. In addition, we are working on taking legal action against the contractor,” he warned.
Earlier this month, drilling works carried out by third-party contractors caused a major outage in Kapit, disrupting supply to key facilities in the riverine town including Kapit Hospital and Water Treatment Plant from 2 to 3 May.
Investigations revealed that a waterworks contractor had damaged a 33kV underground cable near Country Heights and accidentally drilled the major feeder line supplying electricity to the district while performing Horizontal Direct Drilling (HDD) works. Supply to the affected areas was successfully restored after 3 days on 3 May due to extensive repairs required and poor weather conditions.
Despite continuous reminders and notifications on the requirement to check with the utility company on the presence of underground cables, these reminders have largely gone unheeded and cases of supply interruptions caused by construction works by third-party contractors are frequent, causing inconvenience to affected customers.
Since 2018, more than 550 cases related to cable damage by third-party excavations have been recorded across Sarawak, with losses amounting to RM4.7 million. So far in 2021, Sarawak Energy has recorded 71 cases with more than RM400,000 in damages. The contractors involved will be held responsible for the cost of repair and revenue loss due to the damage.
Sarawak Energy again reminds all contractors to call and check before proceeding with construction or excavation works to avoid damaging underground cables and causing unnecessary supply interruptions as well as to protect the safety of their workers and the public.
“Coming in contact with supply cables is a safety hazard to contractors and their workers as it may result in injuries caused by electrocution and even loss of lives. It will also cause supply interruption to residents in the area and the resulting damage usually requires extensive repair works which results in prolonged interruptions. At the end of the day, we want everyone to go home safely which is why safety is our top priority,” Choo added.
Contractors are urged to comply with the Electricity Ordinance, the Electricity Rules 1999, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 when carrying out works within the vicinity of high-tension cables or other electrical infrastructure to ensure safety and health of all persons involved.
To notify of works near electrical infrastructure requiring Sarawak Energy’s technical advice, contractors may contact Sarawak Energy's 24/7 Customer Care Centre at 1300-88-3111 or email email@example.com.
Damaged 33kV underground cable (circled in red) caused by third-party excavation works along Bau-Lundu Road