E.P.C. $10m recovery bill could have been avoided, says Josef

Eighty-three-year-old Josef Baukes from Ululoloa is a worried man. 

He raised his concern about the recovery cost of powerlines damaged by Tropical Cyclone Gita that hit Samoa last month.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Mr. Baukes stated the $10 million recovery bill post TC Gita could have been avoided if the public and Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C.) had acted accordingly.   

“Ten million dollars to fix the damage to powerlines is a lot of money. I would say that 60 percent or 80 percent of the damage could have been avoided. 

“The powerlines are for the welfare of everyone, but there are always those ignorant people on the side of the road who wouldn’t cut the trees crossing powerlines. Instead, they choose to leave the tree standing there,” Mr. Baukes said. 

He says there should be strict regulations implemented in relation to the cutting of trees that interfere with power supply.

“It is the community that should concentrate on them. God will help those who help themselves, but you cannot get any help when you rely all the time on the Government.

“The ignorance of the people is just astonishing here in Samoa, I have never seen anything like this.

“People should make a start; it is the only way to get things moving. Talk about the problem and solve it.”

When asked who is responsible for cutting trees, he stated it was the E.P.C. and the landowners.

The father of four mentioned that to prevent the loss of money and the lives of innocent people, the E.P.C should consider looking into hiring a specialist to deal with this issue.

“E.P.C should plan having inspectors on the road to keep an eye on the power posts and the powerlines.”

Mr. Baukes adds in foreign countries such as New Zealand, Australia and Germany, when people don’t cut trees, then the power supplier or utility supplier will bring a team and cut the trees.

“I am an engineer; low voltage kills just the same, just last week an eight-year-old passed away from Tuaefu and this could have been avoided.

“I know the best thing for Samoa is underground cables, but it is too costly.”

He worries about the safety of the people of Samoa.

Mr. Baukes added he went to E.P.C. and spoke to the General Manager’s secretary on these issues, and so far there has been no response. 

Efforts to get comments from E.P.C. were unsuccessful as of press time.

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