Rural Fijians May Have Several Months Wait For Electricity

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Cyclone Winston hit power supply in Ba, Rakiraki, Naitasiri hard

By Tevita Vuibau

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 8, 2016) – While the Fiji Electricity Authority has restored power to 90 per cent of Viti Levu, rural areas in Ba, Rakiraki and Naitasiri will not have power for another two to three months.

FEA chief executive officer Hasmukh Patel said their infrastructure in these areas had suffered extensive damage and would take time to bring back online.

"As I speak right now it pretty much looks like we might be able to get into early June before we are able to wrap it up or probably the end of June right to the last customer," Mr Patel said.

"Because the damage especially in the rural deep areas of Ba, Koronubu and all those areas, Valevuto inside all those areas, and then especially Rakiraki all those areas and the tear-offs from the main road to Nadarivatu inwards up the hills, Monasavu coming down to Nadarivatu — all those lines were actually very badly damaged as a result of Cyclone Winston.

"So there is quite a bit of work to be done out there and we are expecting at least two to three months before we are able to complete all these repair works."

Mr Patel said they were also waiting on help from other countries to speed up power restoration works.

"We are expecting a team of six from Tonga and Australia is now considering if they can send across some linemen to assist in the restoration work but as I speak, a team from New Zealand is here, 15 people with some trucks.

"The attorney-general had gone to India some time ago and he had requested them if they could send across 50 people and they are still considering and I am still pretty positive that might happen.

"So if we get these additional 70 to 80 people from abroad it definitely might speed up work."

He added FEA expected to restore power to Nadi by yesterday evening.

Mr Patel also said the final damage estimate for FEA would stand at $20million—$23m.

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