A near one-hour blackout on Mother’s Day had plunged most part of Sandakan into darkness . The outage which started at 7.41 pm caught families celebrating the auspicious day by surprise. Most restaurants had advertised on the local newspaper offering special meals to attract customers and most restaurants were reported fully booked.
Edo Ichi, a Japanese restaurant in Tyng Garden ,was jam-packed as early as 6.30 pm with many on waitlist at the entrance. Though not equipped with a standby generator; emergency lights came on and candles were distributed making it more like a candle light party.
Despite the rising discomfort due to the non-functioning air-conditioners and more heat generated by the burning candles; died-hard customers continued with their dinner but not without cursing the power supply company for their insensitiveness when they were there to honor their mothers. The restaurant which prepared their food using cooking gas was not severely affected by the blackout.
Over to MacDonald’s in Bandar IJM, crowds began to build up from 7.00 pm, mostly families with children and those rejected from other restaurants due to no advance booking. By 7.30 pm, it was a full house. Unlike Edo Ichi, MacDonald’s depended on electricity for most of their food preparation and with the disruption of power supply; they had to turn their customers away.
Four restaurants opposite MacDonald’s were open for business at the time. Three of them were equipped with standby generators and they were able to continue their business uninterrupted. Unfortunately, one of them didn’t have such facility and was instantly plunged into total darkness.
Power supply was restored at 8.27pm but most of the customers had long gone as in the case of Old Town and Secret Recipe at Bandar Indah.
Sandakan has been plagued by blackout for many years. The most recent outage; also the worst blackout in recent memory lasted from four to more than seven hours in certain areas from around 3.30 am on April 30, 2012. This outage also affected other districts in Sabah.
In an earlier incident, Prime Minister Najib Razak had a real test of these frequent blackouts in Sabah when he visited the Kim Fung market in Sandakan on April 21, 2012.
All these had attracted a high level visit by Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Peter Chin Fah Kui on May 7, 2012 who announced a federal fund of RM49.2 million to reopen the Batu Sapi power station which was closed in 2010.
Chin said the allocation was meant for next year but brought forward to overcome power problem faced by the district. It was reported that Chin regretted the recent outage that lasted for several hours and also during the prime minister’s visit and assured that it would not recur. However, opposition parties were quick to point out in the local media that they had heard too many times such statements from state and federal ministers.