The General Manager of the Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C), Tologata Tile Tuimaleali’ifano, has defended the Corporation’s decision to purchase a new fleet of vehicles costing $1.7million tala.
Questions have been raised about the timing of the purchase, especially since the Corporation recently made 62 employees redundant as part of cost cutting measures.
But Tologata said the Corporation is moving on with its developments and the new vehicles are essential to improve its services.
“Even with the redundancy, it doesn’t mean that we don’t need vehicles,” he said. “We still need vehicles to provide that service to the country.”
The vehicles, all brand new Ford Rangers, were commissioned earlier this week. Ten customised vehicles cost the Corporation $1.2million while five standard vehicles cost $400,000.
“Let me tell you a little bit of history about the E.P.C vehicles, the last time we purchased vehicles was in 2010 and for five years we’ve been using those vehicles,” he said.
“So the fleet is aging and we needed to get rid of the old vehicles because it was costing us more on the operation and maintenance side. We also needed to improve the quality of our services to the public.”
The General Manager said the cost of the vehicles came from E.P.C’s budget.
During the launch, the Chairman of the E.P.C Board, Ulumalautea John Ryan, urged the employees to look after the assets like their own.
“These are very expensive assets and everyone needs to look after these assets,” he said. “I also urge those who will be using these vehicles that these vehicles are not toys, they are not racing cars.
“The only people that should be driving these vehicles are the ones who have been authorised to drive them and have valid licenses.
“We are not giving you these vehicles for you to learn how to drive in it, and we have high hopes that these vehicles will still be in good condition in the next ten years.”
It’s a message strongly supported by the General Manager.
“The management is very strict on the use of vehicles at the moment,” he said.
“We also use the feedback from the public and there are several employees who have been terminated from E.P.C due to the abuse of vehicles.
“So we will be taking extra care of all these vehicles and we will make sure that only those who are authorised to drive these vehicles will touch them.”
Tologata went on to say the 10 customised vehicles would be allocated among different divsions of the Corporation.
“Four of these customised vehicles will be for Vaitele, two of them will be for Savai’i, two for our generator section and the other two is for our Quality Service in Sogi.”
Tologata acknowledged the support from the Ford Samoa in supplying the vehicles.
“We hope to continue this partnership not only with the purchasing of these vehicles but also we have to look at the maintenance of the vehicles,” he said.
“We also encourage the public to call us and let us know about any incidents where the drivers or employees are abusing the vehicles.
“If there is any time anywhere when you see any vehicle being abused by any staff member, please do not hesitate to call us and we will deal with them.”