Savai’i electricity consumers hit hard

Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C.) has stopped supplying cash power cards to vendors in Savai’i, making it difficult for the island’s residents to purchase electricity. 

The announcement by the E.P.C. last week to vendors in Savai’i, that scratch cash power cards were no longer on sale, has left residents with little to no options on where they can buy electricity top-up cards, other than travelling to Salelologa or calling their families in Apia to assist.  

E.P.C. Chief Executive Officer, Tologata Tile Tuimalealiifano, confirmed when contacted by Samoa Observer that they commissioned a vending system on October 1.

“What we will have is different types of cash power meters, but they can now vend through the new vending system. Using scratch cards is limited to a number of meters, the area of Falealupo as far away as Salelologa can vend on our new vending system we commissioned on Monday,” he said. 

Resident of Falealupo, Lote Fa’amausili Scanlan Savelio, said it was difficult enough to get power before. But now that the scratch cards are not for sale, she said some people have to travel by bus from Itu-Asau or Falealupo to Salelologa at $20 tala return, which is an added expense.  Many others rely on sending money with the bus drivers to get their cash power or call families in Apia.

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When Samoa Observer contacted her, Lote was on the ferry to Upolu for business, and she said the first thing on her list was to purchase cash power for her family back in Falealupo.

“People are often relying on sending money with the bus drivers to get their cash power. I know it was being sold at Asau Petrol Station, though it's still far for villagers to travel.”

According to Margaret, a store owner in the Falealupo area, E.P.C. used to deliver the cards to the vendors. But that was before they announced earlier in the year that they were no longer distributing the scratch cards, and it was up to each store to buy power from Salelologa. 

They were asked by E.P.C. to switch to a vending machine, which the store owner requested six months ago, and to date is yet to be delivered. Margaret also pointed out that before, vendors only make .40sene from on selling a $20 scratch power card and they receive no financial returns after you add travelling costs to Salelologa to purchase a supply but if they didn’t do that -the villagers would lose out on a basic necessity.

Tologata said he was not aware machines were not made available to vendors as far out as Itu-Asau, and he would consider feedback from Falealupo residents and follow up with Savai’i staff to find a solution. 

“As you know with any new systems there are always teething problems in the beginning, it’s good to know this feedback from the consumers, and I’m glad that you have brought this issue up and I will straightaway follow up with the Savai’i staff and find a solution for those consumers.”

Savai’i residents having difficulties accessing cash power vendors are encouraged to call the E.P.C. office to lodge their complaints. Alternatively, you can email [email protected]

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