They’re installing underground electric feed along our street. It was a fascinating process to watch. I didn’t see large construction crews with digging machines—no hardhats, flagmen, traffic cones or even steel-toed shoes. They have those things here but I only see them used for mining or highway construction. I assume this is because labor is quite a bit less expensive than machines. The only way a machine makes sense is when time matters more than cost.
Most property and business are very close to the street. To dig up and replace the cement would be more expensive and disruptive. So, to lay the underground cable, they put rolled plastic piping which appears to be about 1-1/4″ diameter, and insert the cable in the plastic piping.
The tricky part is getting the plastic pipe under driveways and surface obstacles. They start with a hole roughly 8′ long, 3′ wide and 8′ deep. The middle part of the hole has a section that goes down another 2′. Next, they take a 16′ 6×6 and put it into the 2′ section, using it as a fulcrum. They rock the post back and forth to drive 3′ sections of 1-1/2″ drill-pipe. They drive the pipe to the next hole which is 25 to 50′ away. They manage to hit the next hole dead-on every time. I see no lasers or levels.
Take a close look in the hole here and you can see the man who adds lengths of pipe. Another interesting fact is the wood here is all hardwood, so those beams are heavy. More than 3,000 types of hardwood can be found in Indonesia’s rain forests.
So, what do they do with all the dirt? No dumptrucks, backhoes or excavators, just shovels and carungs (fiberglass woven bags). The fill them with soil, which is mostle like red, Georgia clay, and stack them neatly. When they finish their work in the hole, they fill it with the bags of soil.
Indonesians generally seem layed-back and not in a hurry. But they can also be industrious, especially in groups. At times they reminds me of American farmers. They are creative and resourceful with tools on-hand.