Blackouts at a busy airport like KKIA unacceptable, Sabahans say

KOTA KINABALU: Another blackout at the busy Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) has left Sabahans reeling from what they described as an unacceptable incident at a crucial facility in the state.

Although the power disruption on Tuesday (Aug 29) night was not as bad as the 10-hour outage in February last year, the incident still left a negative impression on the people.

Sabah Association of Travel and Tour Agents (Satta) chairman Datuk Seri Winston Liaw said KKIA, as the second busiest airport in Malaysia, should have been safeguarded against power disruptions, however momentary.

Liaw said Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) should have generator sets ready to immediately restore electricity supply within five minutes.

ALSO READ: KK airport needs urgent upgrade

“This is because a blackout can jeopardise the safety of passengers on board aircraft as well as in the airport,” he said when contacted on Wednesday (Aug 30).

He urged MAHB to prioritise KKIA as many other technical issues needed to be addressed such as its escalators, moving walkways and air-conditioning, among others.

“We have conveyed in our last meetings with the KKIA management to have a dialogue with the MAHB top management in the peninsula to resolve all issues at the airport,” he said.

Utility company Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) said the power disruption at the airport was due to an internal technical problem at KKIA.

Politicians like Parti Warisan’s Datuk Junz Wong have slammed the latest KKIA power outage on social media, with netizens also quick to comment.

In a statement on Wednesday, SESB senior general manager (asset management) Idris Mohd Noor said there was no technical issue or fault at the substation supplying power to KKIA on the day of the incident.

ALSO READ: Proposed new KKIA complex will be like a city in itself, says Sabah GLC head

“SESB received complaints on the outage at KKIA at 9.38pm and we found that, following immediate checks, the source of power at the main distribution substation at KKIA to be normal.

“This was confirmed by the KKIA management which said the issue was due to faulty internal wiring within its buildings,” he said.

In a Facebook post, SESB chairman Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau urged the people not to be so quick to blame the utility company whenever a power outage occurred.

He said SESB’s role was only to provide electricity supply, and power was fully restored later at around 12.30am.

Sabah West Coast Smart Consumers Association president David Chan concurred, saying not all power failures were SESB's fault.

“This is because SESB supplies 33KV of power to the airport and it is (up to) MAHB to maintain the internal 11KV power supply.

“We hope MAHB will conduct service maintenance on its electrical cables and transformer besides ensuring its switch gear is in good condition, to avoid further unpleasant power outages,” he said, adding that spare cables should be set aside in case of future power trips.

Liaw said as a committee member of the Sabah Economy Advisory Council chaired by Tan Sri David Chu, he felt let down by the incident.

“I feel sad because together with Datuk John Lo and Datuk NK Foo (and Chu), we are looking after the well-being of the airport.

“After months and years of (marketing and promotions) by industry players and government bodies to attract more tourists to Sabah, the result has been overwhelming," he said.

He added that KKIA was a profitable concern, and had been doing quite well despite budget constraints.

“(Its profitability is) shown in the records.

“(That is why) we look forward to having the dialogue with the top MAHB management in Kuala Lumpur to solve all problems at KKIA,” Liaw said.

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