Govt. priorities questioned over generator saga

Government’s priorities have been questioned over its proposal to install a standby generator to power up the Tanumalala prison overlooking other essential services. 

Member of Parliament for Salega East, Olo Fiti Vaai, said he is puzzled as to why the Government would prioritise a generator for the prison over more pressing needs like health. He claims that the current standby generator at the main Moto’otua hospital can only supply essential machineries, not the whole facility. 

“Our main hospital is not fully covered with the standby generator that supplies it and that is a safety concern,”  Olo said, acknowledging that this was an issue raised by Gagaifomauga No. 3, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, when he questioned the price of the generator.

“Why is the government so desperate to get a generator at the prisons when the whole hospital is not covered with its current generator?" Olo asked.  “Everything in that hospital is essential even the plugs on the bedside of the patient should be connected so that the doctor can examine you without worrying about the power supply…” 

 Concerns from Olo follows the latest revelation from the Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, who confirmed the generator for the prisons project has been re-tendered. 

Tialavea said the tender has not been awarded following queries about a $300,000 initially allocated for a 200kva generator for prisons. 

He added the specification for the generator has been reduced from 200kva to 110 based on recommendation from an electrical engineer. 

But Olo, who is an experienced engineer, disputed the specification needed for the prisons saying the Tanumalala prison only needs a 50kva generator.  He pointed out that in the past when he did works for the airport at Faleolo, the facility required 150kva generator. 

In comparison to the prison, Olo said the airport needs 150kva because of the runway lights that draws a lot of power.

“Even 110kva is too much for the prisons but a 50kva is appropriate and will save funds,” he said. 

“It’s a back-up generator for essential lighting and I don’t know what else is being used for at the prison when the generator would only be used for the lighting. The problem of getting a bigger generator for something that requires less power is that it will damage it and that is why its important to calculate the load and capacity needed for prison.” 

It was not possible to get a comment from the Minister of Prisons. 

Gagaifomauga No. 3 MP, La'aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, who questioned the cost allocated by Parliament's Finance Committee was investigated over it. 

He later offered a verbal resignation when a Privilege and Ethics Committee found him guilty of misleading Parliament for comments he made about the generator. 

In the report from the Privilege and Ethics Committee, it noted “other observations” as a result of its investigation. 

The Committee believes that these also need to be addressed as so to instigate new processes and procedures to further improve the services of Government Ministries. 

It made reference to comments made by the Chairperson of the Finance and Expenditure Committee that responded to claims made by La’auli about the generator price being costly.

Chairperson and M.P. Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau had told Parliament during the exchange with La’auli that the $300,000 number wasn’t just inserted in their report.
“There were companies that bid for the Prisons tender that the Committee reviewed, and this was the most appropriate cost and lowest bid for the prisons,” she said. “That is the answer, we had checked the quotes that were submitted.”

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