$10million bill could have easily been avoided

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 23 February 2018, 12:00AM

A large part of the $10million bill Cyclone Gita has slapped the Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C.) with is really unnecessary. That much is undeniable.

It’s money that could have been easily saved had people used their common sense. That said, the responsibility goes both ways. Members of the public have an obligation to do their part to protect public assets. 

On the other hand, the Government through the E.P.C. has a role to ensure they monitor the laws they introduce so that they don’t just become nice policies that end up collecting dust on the shelves.

We are referring to a story titled “Gita slaps E.P.C. with $10m bill” published on the Thursday edition of the Samoa Observer this week. 

According to E.P.C. General Manager, Tologata Tile Tuimalealiifano, the cost covers the damage inflicted by the category 2 cyclone.

“The cost of the electricity lines affected by trees is between $5 and $6 million,” he said. “The low voltage wires were damaged badly because the trees 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.”


Now we couldn’t agree more with the point made by the General Manager.

But let’s pause here for a second. Who is responsible for ensuring those trees are cut as soon as they infringe on the power lines? Is it the Government or members of the public? 

If its members of the public, is there no fine for such things? If it’s the Government, are there no contractors out there whose job is to primarily monitor these trees?

We say this for  the  simple reason that Cyclone Gita is not the first one to have struck this country. And yet every time a cyclone comes, one of the biggest challenges for E.P.C. is always dealing with these trees that fall on power lines.

Which means whatever law exists out there – if any - with regards to trees next to power lines, it is not existent in as far as monitoring goes. 

Now who should be blamed for that?

These are questions we need to address now. Folks, $6million tala is not a small amount of money. That is a huge expenditure.

Imagine if that was used to connect many of the families on the Village Voice to government’s electricity supply? 

Yet according to the E.P.C’s General Manager, that money will now again be wasted to fix someone’s negligence and failure to do their job. This is unacceptable and it needs to change. We cannot continue down this path.

Today, General Manager Tologata is calling for help from members of the public.

 “This is where we need the assistance of the Village Councils on this specific issue,” he said. “And to be quite honest, the village that does heed this initiative will have no problems with electricity when natural disasters strike.”

In moving forward, the E.P.C. has asked 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,” he said.

“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.”

We’ll let Cyclone Gita be the last warning. We know when it comes to cyclones and natural disasters, trees will always affect power lines and that’s a given. 

But we are talking about minimizing the damage and saving such an expense so that the money could be spent somewhere else where the need is more pressing.

Everybody needs to be doing their part. 

Or do we need more laws to force us to use our brains?

Have a restful weekend Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 23 February 2018, 12:00AM

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