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10 Australian power line mechanics arrive in Tonga to assist TPL

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21st February, 2018 10 Australian power line mechanics, two support officers from Australia’s Emergency Management Australia (EMA) and a logistician from Palladium arrived in Nuku’alofa this afternoon in the Australian Defense Force C-17 aircraft to support Tonga Power Limited (TPL) electricity restoration.

The line mechanics have been sourced from three different Australian utility companies: Essential Energy (NSW), EVO Energy (ACT) and NJ Construction (NSW). They will work with the local TPL teams over the next fortnight and will be replaced by a new team of Australian line mechanics for a further two weeks.

Australian High Commissioner, H.E. Mr. Andrew Ford in a media briefing this afternoon said, “Australia has responded quickly to a request from the Tongan Government received on 19th February to support Tonga Power Limited repairing the Tongan power network which suffered extensive damage by Tropical Cyclone Gita.”

He said that approximately 50 percent of Tongatapu’s electricity network and 15 percent of ‘Eua’s network, were damaged after TC Gita.

TPL estimates that around 80 percent of Tongan households remain without power. Without external assistance the network will take at least three months to repair.

“The team will join TPL repair crews and an additional team of New Zealand line workers who are expected in the coming days to accelerate the repair of the network. TPL work crews have been working continuous 12-16 hour days since the cyclone. TPL estimate that with the assistance the network could be repaired within 4-5 weeks,” Ford said.

“Power is critical for water security, food security and economic activity. It is critical for front line services including health and education. So this is the first time for Australia to deploy this capability in an overseas emergency.”

In addition to the Australian power team, the aircraft carried tools and power equipment to support the repairs to the Tongan power network, dengue kits, UNFPA dignity kits and drones to support the World Bank aerial assessments to the support in depth needs assessments.

ENDS

Issued by the: Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change & Communications.

 

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