06 November 2014 The Asian Development Bank granted a total of USD$4.52 million from its Disaster Response Facility. The sum is to assist the Government of Tonga with the reconstruction, and climate and disaster proofing of the electricity network and school facilities that were damaged by Cyclone Ian in January 2014. Of this contribution, USD$2.7 million has been allocated to the restoration of the electricity network.
The Government of New Zealand is correspondingly providing NZD$4.27 million towards this very same project for the reconstruction and climate-and disaster proofing of school facilities in Ha‟apai. In addition, the Government of Tonga is also providing an in-kind contribution, and Tonga Power is contributing towards the management and administration of the project. The total Tongan contribution is TOP$1.67 million.
The key outcomes of this project include the reconstruction and climate and disaster-proofing of the main electricity network, reconstruction and climate and disaster-proofing of the school facilities and removal of materials containing asbestos from damaged buildings in Ha‟apai.
“Tonga Power is grateful to the Asian Development Bank and New Zealand Government for their input into this project. Their valuable contributions will make sure the Tonga Power electricity system is not just rebuilt, but it will be much stronger and able to withstand storms. The project will take around twelve months to complete and will involve a significant number of lines and project management staff”, said John van Brink, CEO of Tonga Power Limited.
Earlier this year, Tropical Cyclone Ian destroyed 90% of the power lines and power poles on Ha‟apai leaving more than 900 customers without power and over 75% of homes severely destroyed in the powerful storm.
The rebuild project aims to strengthen the main electricity network in Ha‟apai to make it more resilient to extreme weather events and disasters in the future and ensure the delivery of reliable power supply to electricity consumers in Ha‟apai which also supports the Government of Tonga‟s Tropical Ian Response Plan.
A crew of nine Tonga Power staff including linesmen and mechanics were dispatched to Ha‟apai on Tuesday, 28th October 2014 for this specific project which is headed by the Project Manager, Mr Ian Skelton.
Tonga Power began shipping the equipment and materials required for the construction work at Ha‟apai in the MV „Otuanga‟ofa on Tuesday, 28th October which arrived at Taufa‟ahau Wharf, Pangai on Wednesday, 29th October 2014. Some of the main equipment involved included the followings:
One bucket truck to be used by the linesmen
One crane truck to be used for drilling
One Ute to transport the materials for the project to the construction areas
ABC drums to renew the power lines at Ha‟apai
Meter boxes for the project
The power poles for the project were shipped to Pangai, Ha‟apai in March 2014 as part of the New Zealand Government‟s contribution.
The construction of this major project at Ha‟apai started on Friday, 31st October 2014 at Koulo.