Malaysia

Poor upkeep to blame for KKIA blackout, says ex-SESB official

KOTA KINABALU, Nov 2 — Poor maintenance could be one of the factors that triggered the runway lights blackout at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) last week, says Datuk Peter Lajumin, former senior general manager (operations) of Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB).

Asserting that the incident was not entirely the fault of the government, particularly the Sabah government, he said that in a very critical facility such as the KKIA runway, regular inspection or maintenance was very crucial, or at least a back-up system must always be in place.

“The back-up could be in the form of an extra cable where when one cable malfunctions, another can take over. It should be designed up to international standards as Kota Kinabalu is an international airport.

“Based on information that I have gathered, including from SESB, this incident was not the fault of SESB, and I think it is more of an internal (cable) problem at KKIA,” Lajumin told Bernama here today when asked for his personal view on the likely problems associated with the KKIA blackout last Thursday and Friday.

“To me, I see a lot of activities going on at the airport (KKIA), so the possibility of cables being disturbed during ongoing construction work in the area makes it even more critical for regular inspection of all activities going on at KKIA.

“There could be soil movement during the construction and if there are joints in the cables, the soil movement may have an effect on the cables, especially underground ones, during reclamation and digging works, for example. That’s why we need to do regular inspection ... whether this is carried out only the people at Malaysia Airports will know,” said Lajumin.

The federal government had on Tuesday extended an apology to passengers stranded by the blackout and Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the government viewed the matter seriously and wanted an investigation “right to the root as we do not want it to happen again”.

The Sabah state Cabinet is equally concerned and wanted Malaysia Airports to immediately resolve problems at KKIA. Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman was quoted as saying that the state Cabinet also wanted MAB to take proactive steps to ensure that such incidents did not recur.

Malaysia Airports said that during the blackout, 51 flights had to be diverted, delayed or cancelled for two nights, affecting about 6,000 passengers.

Service resumed by 9.30 pm last Friday following the installation of new cables and lighting, and portable electrical power supply back-up. — Bernama

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