The New Zealand High Commissioner to Tonga, His Excellency Dr. Jonathan Austin and the Minister for Public Enterprises and Justice, Hon. Clive Edwards also participated in the occasion, accompanied by the Chairman of the Board for Tonga Power Limited, Mr. Carl Sanft and Tonga Power Limited Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Peter McGill.
The Director for Public Enterprises, Mr. ‘Inoke Vala and Project Manager for the Tonga Village Upgrade Network project, Mr. Jason Newton also took part in the event, which cements the partnership between the Government of Tonga's TERM, the Tonga Power Ltd and the New Zealand Government to improve the rural and per-urban low voltage network in villages in Tongatapu.
The main objective of such a project is to provide safe, efficient and reliable electricity distribution networks to households and businesses in those villages and districts.
Due to the poor quality of networks in many of these villages, the power supply is unreliable, inconsistent and inefficient, and average line losses equate to 22.3%. The networks also present a public safety hazard.
The Village Network Upgrade will target 20 villages that have the worst stick pole networks, the poorest electricity transmission, and are the greatest distance from the capital, Nuku‘alofa.
Funding the project
The New Zealand Aid through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has agreed to provide a donor funding amount of NZD$5.4 million (TOP $5,475,165.00) to enable the completion of the Tonga Village Upgrade Project (TVNUP).
The project was started in June 2001 and is scheduled for a two-year term, ending on June 31, 2013.
As part of this funding it has enabled Tonga Power to complete the following:
- Employment of 9 new trainee line mechanics and training them to the New Zealand ESITO standard enabling them to register as a New Zealand qualified Line Mechanic
- Purchase of Plant and Equipment (Crane Truck, Bucket Truck, 5 ton Excavator, tools) to the value of NZD $500,000.
- Purchase of Network materials (Poles, conductors and hardware) to the value of NZD $ 3.9 million
- Complete installation of a new distribution network in 17 villages including undergrounding of all service connections
- Employment of two New Zealand personnel to add to the technical capacity of Tonga Power
The project has been underway for the last seven months with the following key achievements being met:
May 2011: Employment of Project Manager and Project Coordinator
September - December 2011: Delivery of Project Plant and Equipment
October 2011: Employment of 9 trainees Line Mechanics and commencement of training; Network Designs completed for the first 6 villages; Network Drawings draughted and approved for use
November 2011: ESITO Line Trainer secured and L2 lines training completed
December 2011: Trainees registered with National Student No.'s with New Zealand Qualification Authority; Site Yard established and project offices and workshop constructed; Network Materials received
Schedule of Works for Stage One
The schedule of works planned for Stage one of the project, is that today will mark the commencement of upgrade to networks between 16 villages starting with the village of Puke this morning.
The Schedule of Works - Dates and Villages are as follows:
Starting January 26, 2012 - Puke, Ha'akame/Ha'alalo, Vaotu'u, Ha'utu/Fahefa, Kala'au, Ha'atafu
Commencing July 17, 2012 - Houma, Kolonga, Afa, Niutoua, Afa, Haveluliku, Fatumu
Commencing January 7, 2013 - Lavengatonga, Ha'asini/Hamula, Nakolo, ‘Utulau
The completion date for Stage One of the project is June 30,2013.
It is expected that 10,000 of Tonga's population will benefit from this first part of four stages the project. Under the same program, customers from the outer islands of Vava'u, Ha'apai and ‘Eua will also benefit from the same project, estimated at $15 million but separate funding.
The Public Enterprise Minister emphasized the Government's reaching out to fulfill its vision to promote strong inclusive communities by engaging districts/villages and communities in meeting their prioritized service needs and ensuring distribution of development benefits for all.
This is evident in the Government's launching two important projects - Tonga Cable Submarine and today's Village Network upgrade that will not only have nationwide implications but provide opportunities to the people in the districts and villages.
Issued by the: Ministry of Information and Communications, Nuku'alofa, 2012.