Gita slaps E.P.C. with $10m bill
The damage done by Tropical Cyclone Gita to Samoa’s electricity infrastructure is estimated to have cost up to $10million.
This is according to E.P.C. General Manager, Tologata Tile Tuimalealiifano, who said this cost covers new electricity poles, lines and the generators damaged by the cyclone.
“This is all being funded through local funds. We do welcome any donor who does want to help,” he said.
He said the impact of the damaged electricity lines and poles was about 50 percent.
“The cost of the electricity lines affected by trees is between $5 and $6 million.
“The low voltage wires were damaged badly because the tree fell on the electricity lines and that is why the E.P.C. is calling on families and villages not to plant any trees near the electricity poles and lines.
“If that advice was heeded there would actually be very minimal damages.
“I mean it’s good now that all the big trees have fallen, but it won’t be long before members of the public will again plant trees next to the electrical poles and lines.
“And what’s puzzling is that it’s not like they will get any form of compensation from those trees.
“This is where we need the assistance of the Village Councils on this specific issue.
“And to be quite honest, the village that does heed this initiative will have no problems with electricity when natural disasters strike,” he said.
Tologata also issued a stern warning for members of the public who have low electricity lines to be cautious.
“We will conduct a follow up soon, however we also depend on the families to report any wiring faults they come across.”
According to Tologata, they have proposed to the Attorney General’s Office to consider drafting a Bill to ban planting of trees next to electricity poles and lines.
“This law is mainly for the safety of the public because there are cases where families cut down a tree and it falls on a line, they will eventually call us.
“Members of the public need to know that there is a huge impact of trees falling on electricity poles, in some cases, there is a possibility that this one tree will eliminate the power for the whole district.
“Yet families don’t really consider the impact until something goes wrong,” said Tologata.
In regards to the generators, Tologata said the most impacted site was in Alaoa.
“This specific area is quite challenging for us because no vehicle can reach the site because of the narrow road and with the landslide, it was just difficult,” he said.
Apolima did not lose their power during the recent cyclone, and almost 15 families on that island receive power through solar panels.