PALAU DECLARES EMERGENCY AFTER POWER PLANT FIRE

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Koror, Airai, Aimeliik without power, utility services

By Aurea Gerundio-Dizon KOROR, Palau (Island Times, Nov. 7, 2011) - Following the fire at Aimeliik Power Plant that resulted in power rationing, President Toribiong yesterday declared a state of emergency in Palau.

[PIR editor’s note: Aimeliik, one of Palau’s 16 states, is where the largest power plant is located. The state has an area of 52 square kilometers and a population of approximately 350 people. Aimeliik is situated on the southwest corner of Babeldaob Island, next to the national airport in Airai. Island Times reports the Palau Public Utilities Corporation has begun a power rationing program for Koror, Aimeliik, and Airai using the Malakal Power Plant - the only source of power for the island state of Koror.]

Toribiong stated that the lack of reliable and sufficient electricity threatens the operations of Palau’s water systems, sewer system, Belau National Hospital, public and private schools, airport, Public Safety Bureau and Palau National Communications Corporation.

With the declaration of state of emergency, the president shall assume and exercise, at his sole discretion, all of the statutory authority and powers presently conferred upon the Board of Directors and management of Palau Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC). The president may, at his sole discretion, consult with the board or management before exercising such authority and powers.

The declaration states that due to apparent mismanagement and poor maintenance, PPUC has permitted the foregoing situation to exist and is unable, due to statutory restrictions, to adequately and promptly respond to and remedy the situation.

The declaration gives the president authority to exercise all foregoing authority and powers, specifically including without limitation the authority to enter into contracts, without regard to any other existing procurement laws or regulations, and furthermore, may promulgate and issue new policies, regulations, rules or tariffs without regard to the Administrative Procedures Act.

Any contract entered into by the president and any new policies or tariffs issued shall survive the termination of the emergency powers the president has assumed in this declaration.

The declaration further authorizes the president to remove existing members of the board and employees of PPUC, with or without good cause, subject only to the provisions of any existing contracts regarding severance pay that the PPUC may have with such employees.

The president, after this declaration, called the Senate and the House to convene at 10 a.m. Wednesday to confirm or disapprove the foregoing declaration.

But the president said that when drafting this declaration, he already met with some members of the OEK and that they have reviewed it.

He said that he also met with governors of Ngeremlengui, Ngatpang, Ngardmau, Ngaraard and Ngarchelong to address the power crisis. The governors reportedly expressed concern on the lack of water.

"The government is trying to get portable generators to install in these five states," Toribiong said.

The president added that Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce Min. Jackson Ngiraingas is working closely with PPUC to extend power to other states in Babeldaob.

The president assured that work is being done to restore power to normalcy as soon as possible.

Island Times © 2011 Island Times. All rights reserved

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