Kiwi linesmen help stricken Fiji

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Top Energy linesmen at work in Fiji this week helping repair the damage left by Cyclone Winston.
Top Energy linesmen at work in Fiji this week helping repair the damage left by Cyclone Winston.

A Far North company is leading a Kiwi effort to help restore Fiji's power network after the island nation was devastated by Cyclone Winston.

Last month's cyclone, the biggest to ever hit Fiji, killed 44 people, destroyed more than 9000 homes and damaged roads and power networks.

Among those helping in the rebuild are a crew of Kiwi linesmen working with the Fiji Electricity Authority. The team includes five Top Energy line mechanics and is led by a Top Energy project manager. Staff from Hawke's Bay-based Unison make up the rest of the team.

Top Energy chief executive Russell Shaw said the company responded to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade call for New Zealand lines and contracting businesses to help fix Fiji's power infrastructure. The company had experience in Fiji and was familiar with the country's terrain and electricity network, he said. Mr Shaw said the workers, who left last weekend and will stay for 21 days, faced a massive task.

"The cyclone tore through entire villages and towns, wrecking homes, buildings and crops. Roads and bridges were damaged, and there was extensive damage to the electricity network," he said. "The working environment is harsh, lines and power poles are on the ground. We're sending experienced linesmen who have worked in Fiji before or in cyclone-type environments."

The workers may stay for another 21 days if required.

- Northern Advocate

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