Third-Party Contractor Works Cause Major Kapit Outage

Sarawak Energy Deploys Mobile Gensets as Extensive Repair Works Continue.

6 MAY 2021

Third-party contractors who neglected to check with Sarawak Energy caused a major outage in Kapit, disrupting supply to parts of the riverine town from 2 to 3 May, including Kapit Hospital and Water Treatment Plant.

The outage was traced to drilling works by the contractor that had damaged a 33kV underground cable near Country Heights. Further investigations by Sarawak Energy showed that the water works contractor had accidentally drilled into the major feeder line supplying electricity to the district while performing Horizontal Direct Drilling (HDD) works.

Sarawak Energy has deployed a technical team from Sibu to facilitate safe restoration of supply to affected customers while ensuring compliance with the COVID-19 movement restrictions.

Mobile gensets from Sibu, Sarikei and Bintulu were also brought in to provide temporary supply amidst repair works.

With the technical teams working around the clock, supply was normalised in stages to Kapit Town, starting at 10pm on the same day as the interruption. Supply to the remaining affected areas was safely restored at 8pm the following day (3 May) due to the extent of the damage which required extensive repair works compounded by heavy rain.

Sarawak Energy Central Region Regional Manager Nazry Abdul Latip said that warning letters and stop-work orders were issued to the contractors involved.

“We have also copied these letters to the Ministry of Utilities Sarawak, Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) and the project owner for further action to ensure the contractor seriously regard safety as a top priority. All repair costs will also be borne by the contractor responsible for this,” said Nazry.

Residents of Kapit also experienced a major outage due to third-party construction works in 2018 when excavation works damaged 33kV underground cables near Jalan Selirik, affecting supply to more than 9,000 customers for three days.

Since 2018, more than 520 cases related to cable damage by third-party excavations have been recorded across Sarawak, with losses amounting to RM4.7 million. For the first few months of 2021 alone, Sarawak Energy has recorded 47 cases with more than RM360,000 in damage. The contractors involved will be held responsible for the cost of repair and revenue loss due to these damages.

“Contractors must call and check with us before proceeding with construction works close by potential cable routes. Our technical team will assist in providing the necessary information for contractors to stay clear of the cables,” said Nazry.

“Coming in contact with supply cables are a safety hazard to contractor 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 most times, the damage incurred requires extensive repair works. This means prolonged interruption. At the end of the day, we want everyone to go home safely and this is why safety is our top priority,” he added.

Contractors are constantly reminded to check with Sarawak Energy on cable routes before commencing works in the vicinity to avoid damaging underground cables and causing unnecessary supply interruptions. This is also to protect the safety of their workers. Despite continuous reminders and notifications on the importance of electrical line safety, cases of supply interruptions due to construction works by third-party contractors remain frequent, causing inconvenience to affected customers.

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 the safety and health of all persons involved.

Contractors may contact Sarawak Energy's 24/7 Call Centre at 1300-88-3111 or email to notify on works near electrical infrastructure requiring Sarawak Energy’s technical advice.

Damaged underground cable from third-party drilling works causing supply interruption to Kapit.

Sarawak Energy’s technical team repairing damaged cable to restore supply safely to Kapit.