11 March 2014 : The team from the Tonga Village Network Upgrade Project with the new bucket trucks. Also present at the handover of the trucks is the New Zealand High Commissioner, HE Mark Talbot, Minister for Public Enterprises, Hon Fe’aomoeata Vakata and the CEO for Tonga Power Ltd, John van Brink. Small Industries Centre, March 2014.
The Tonga Village Network Upgrade Project added four new bucket trucks to its vehicle fleet to be immediately utilized for the power network infrastructure improvement works throughout the 33 rural and peri-urban villages in Tongatapu.
Under the New Zealand Government aid funding through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the amount funded for the project is $22.2million (NZD) which also includes the purchase of machinery and equipment to be able to carry out the works.
The New Zealand High Commissioner to Tonga, HE Mark Talbot said, “The Tonga Village Upgrade Project is a fantastic project that is being implemented by Tonga Power Ltd. It will help reduce line losses and reduce Tonga’s reliance on diesel for electricity generation”.
He added, “The linesmen have done a professional job with rebuilding the entire power network in Ha’apai after the cyclone in January which gives us confidence about the efficiency of the Tonga Village Project, it will be improved with these new trucks that we see today”.
Compared to the three existing trucks, these new bucket trucks are bigger and of higher reach, being capable of reaching upwards of 13 metres.
“You’ll be seeing these trucks on the road and in the field providing more support to the line crews as works continue in the villages of Kanokupolu and Nukunuku up to Masilamea”, said the project leader, Neil Jones.
He said that the village upgrade project also provides funding for on-going training to all line staff involved in the project.
“Through training, the linesmen are learning how to use their bucket trucks to perform their jobs safely and effectively. Instead of just relying on their experience and passion for scaling poles, they can work out of bucket trucks allowing them to stay out in the field longer and minimize their lost time due to work-time injuries,” he said.
Tonga Power’s CEO John van Brink said, “We are pleased to be able to get going on stage two. Last year we completed upgrading the electricity network to 17 villages. Over the next five years we will continue working towards 33 villages”.
On behalf of the Government of Tonga, the Minister for Public Enterprises, Hon. Fe’aomoeata Vakata expressed his appreciation to the Government of New Zealand for the grant aid they have provided and their recognition of the importance to provide safe and reliable supply of electricity to the people of Tonga.
Issued by the : Tonga Power Limited