EFL HAS SERIOUS QUESTIONS TO ANSWER
Monday 30th December 2019
The management of Energy Fiji Limited has some serious questions to answer about the failure of power supplies on the main islands during Tropical Cyclone Sarai, said National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad.
Professor Prasad said many parts of Viti Levu had their power supply interrupted even hours before these areas started being affected by winds on Friday 27th December.
“Three days later most of these areas are without power. Even other areas where supply was restored, suffered sudden blackouts and restoration of supply, resulting in surges and damage and destruction to home appliances and equipment”.
“The so-called unplanned power outages affected all of Fiji’s main urban centres, as well as Vanua Levu and Ovalau. Critical services such as hospitals and water treatment plants, and thousands of consumers, were left without power for up to 48 hours or more particularly in the Western Division”.
EFL blames strong winds for affecting electricity infrastructure. That excuse is not good enough. Viti Levu was not even in the direct path of the cyclone.
“EFL has just gone through a part-privatisation process. This means that it will be striving to make a profit to pay dividends to its shareholders. Every dollar of profit that goes to dividends is a dollar that is not invested in strengthening its infrastructure to make it resilient to natural disasters”.
“Electricity is a critical service. Lives depend on it. Fiji suffers huge losses in productivity when the power goes off”.
“EFL is a monopoly provider of an essential service. It needs to be accountable to the public. It needs to tell the people exactly what went wrong and why, and how it plans to improve. In particular it needs to reassure the public that it will invest in making its services more reliable, not just hold on to its profits to pay its new owners”.
Professor Prasad also said now that Tropical Cyclone Sarai is leaving Fiji, we should carefully take stock and learn from experience.
“We congratulate and thank all the first responders – the National Disaster Management Office, the Police, the emergency services, Energy Fiji Limited linesmen, volunteers from organisations like the Fiji Red Cross and the many people whose individual efforts helped keep our people safe”.
“NDMO should publish a report on every cyclone and natural disaster. This report would tell the public how it planned for it, what went well, what went wrong and what needs improvement”.
“If people are given information and the opportunity to contribute their ideas and local knowledge, Fiji can continue to improve its responses to natural disasters”.
Professor Biman Prasad