Sepilok Centre withour power for months
Published on: Tuesday, August 02, 2022
By: Sidney Skinner
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The stifling conditions inside the viewing gallery became too intolerable for this mother and her young sons.
The Wildlife Department is still waiting to repair an electrical fault which has left the outdoor nursery at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre without any ventilation for months.

A spokesman for the agency’s branch in Sandakan, where the Centre is located, said it had been unable to operate the air conditioning or ceiling fans at the nursery due to a problem with an underground cable servicing the premises.

“Our headquarters submitted the necessary documents on the estimated cost of the repairs to the Ministry of Finance (MOF) earlier this year,” he said on August 1.

“An application was made, at the time, for an allocation to deal with the affected section of the power line.

Despite following up regularly on the outcome of this request with the MOF, he said, the Department was still waiting to receive a letter of approval for the funds.

The spokesman was responding to feedback from a Telipok mother about the stifling conditions inside the nursery’s viewing gallery.

He said the agency was aware of how hot it could get in the gallery, especially in the afternoons.

“This has become a cause for concern for us as many visitors, both from outstation and abroad, gather inside to watch the orangutans being fed.

“We know that it can get stuffy to be inside, particularly for young children.

The Centre’s management had a sign about the electrical problems put up in the viewing gallery at the outdoor nursery.

 “Without an electricity supply, however, we cannot even have portable stand fans placed here to make it more comfortable for the public.”

The spokesman said the management for the Centre had alerted visitors to the inconvenience they were likely to encounter in the gallery.

“A sign has been put up on a bamboo fixture to inform our guests about the lack of ventilation here.”

JOLENE of Telipok bemoaned the intolerable experience she and her family went to the outdoor nursery recently.

“My eight-year-old and ten-year-old boys were so excited about the prospect of seeing the food being given to the monkeys,” she said.

“We arrived early and, after about 10 minutes of waiting for the feeding session to get underway, the younger of the pair began to remark about how hot it was inside.

“Me and my husband kept wiping our foreheads. After another five minutes, both my sons began pestering me about the heat.”

At that point, she said it just became too much for her.

“We left the Centre and went to look for some ice-cream to cool off.”

Jolene said she overheard some those, who had come to see the orangutans being fed, grumbling about how ‘stuffy’ it was.

“I got the impression that the ventilation problems had been there for some time because one of tour guides remarked that it had been similarly warm inside when he was there two months ago.

“Someone else wanted to know what the management was doing with fees the public had to pay to enter the Centre.

“This individual reasoned that some of this money should go towards improving the air- conditioning for the building.” 

She said her spouse was under the impression that Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) was to blame for the power problems at the nursery.

“He had a word with one of the Centre’s staff about the discomfort inside the gallery, when he went to the toilet. 

“This personnel claimed that SESB was dragging its feet to appoint a contractor to attend to the cable.”

A SESB spokesman refuted the suggestion that the company was taking its time to resolve the problem at the nursery’s viewing gallery, saying that this matter was out of the firm’s hands.

“Our staff have checked on the electricity lines before the meter for the Centre and confirmed that they were in working order,” he said.

“We even attended to some of our assets in this part of the district.”

Despite these efforts, he said the nursery was still without power. 

“We can only attribute this to a problem with cables inside the Center.”

He said the onus was on the management for the premises to engage a private contractor to make the necessary repairs.

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