Assessments to begin for FEA cables to go underground
Independent consideration for the areas which Government can target to go underground first
Government has had discussions with the Fiji Electricity Authority about identifying areas where electricity cables can go underground. The Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, confirmed his discussion with FEA chief executive, Hasmukh Patel, a week and half ago. This comes as we rebuild from the impact of Tropical Cyclone Winston. Thus, such moves can ensure our infrastructure is climatically sustainable and able to withstand the increasing natural disasters. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said they agreed this would involve a big cost and investment and which was why they are first going to get independent assessment done. The independent assessment would be for the areas which Government can first target to go underground. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said they would be taking into consideration things like not just the terrain of the land but also in respect of the cost to businesses. “Cost to businesses in the sense where are the key economic areas where we can ensure can get up and running very quickly,” he said. “Unfortunately in Suva, the manufacturing areas don’t necessarily have dedicated lines like Denarau does which has dedicated electricity line, sewerage line, and water line.”
Given the cost factor, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said they want the assessments to be carried out very quickly for this can be factored and built into Government’s development plan. “We have already had preliminary discussions with organisations like the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and various other organisations and they would love to fund those types of projects,” he said. In fact, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum pointed out that ADB, through OPEC, has funding for projects such as this in energy and infrastructure, something which we were previously oblivious to.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum made these comments during the Fiji Business Forum held the past Saturday at the Holiday Inn Suva. It was organised by the Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He was responding to a question from Mark Halabe, managing director of Mark One Apparel. Mr Halabe was concerned that one of his bigger clients is splitting production away from Fiji due to the possible impact natural climatic disasters pose to Fiji basing their argument on the impact from Tropical Cyclone Winston. “If Winston had gone through Suva and if my factory had been destroyed, my customers business would be destroyed,” he said.
“So their decision now was that if Fiji has a sovereign risk of climatic problems that could wipe out industries and hence their business, logically they will go to other countries. “Discussion we have had is that the infrastructure we rebuild must be able to sustain economic continuance given that we will have more frequent climatic disasters in the country. “They say the infrastructure we build must sustain a category 5 cyclone then my customers will feel more comfortable that Fiji can sustain this destruction.” Mr Halabe said it’s not just his customers but anybody who intends to do business with the export industry in Fiji, must have that assurance to maximise Fiji’s position. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum agreed infrastructure needs to be rebuilt taking the increasing climatic disasters into consideration.
As such, moving electricity lines underground would just be a start to ensuring business continuance.
We have already had preliminary discussions with organisations like the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and various other organisations and they would love to fund those types of projects Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum Attorney-General and Minister for Economy
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