EFL clarifies raising of Wainisavulevu Weir

Affected environment at the Wainisavulevu area. Picture: SUPPLIED

ENERGY Fiji Ltd claimed yesterday that the Wainisavulevu Weir was raised by six metres and not eight metres as The Fiji Times has reported.

EFL chairman Daksesh Patel said at a press conference yesterday that the prime minister had been “misinformed” when, at a speech opening the $F43 million weir expansion project, he had referred to the weir being raised by eight metres in height.

Mr Patel also did not answer a question from The Fiji Times on why a document on EFL’s website, the Wainisavulevu Weir Raising Project Brief, also described the weir as being raised by eight metres.

Shortly after yesterday’s press conference, at 4.48pm, the document was changed on EFL’s website.

It now refers to the weir being raised by only six metres in height.

When commissioning the upgraded weir in 2015 Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said “the expansion of our hydroelectric generating capacity through the upgrading of this reservoir at Wainisavulevu is a wonderful day for Fiji. By raising this weir an additional eight metres, the reservoir can now hold seventeen times more water than it could before”.

However, Mr Patel maintained that it was raised by six metres.

“Well the PM was misinformed, I am not responsible for who told the PM. I’m pretty sure that the PM only relies on the information that is given. There may be a mistake there and factually incorrect statement, I’m not too sure why PM said that,” Mr Patel said.

“I haven’t seen PM’s statement so I do not wish to make a statement. I don’t want to verify, confirm or deny anything there because I don’t know what PM said.”

The following is an extract from an exchange between The Fiji Times reporter Sikeli Qounadavu and Mr Patel:

FT: Why is it I am looking at a PDF document from your website with the actual sentence; “In light of the above, the FEA has embarked upon a capital works project to raise the Wainisavulevu Weir by eight metres.” A quick Google search and you can find it. When the PM commissioned it in November 2015, (he said) it was raised by eight metres.

CChairman: We have not raised it by eight metres. We have raised it to six metres. We cannot raise it by eight metres. We have not raised it by eight metres. You may have your interpretation from the Google Map, but we have facts which are in documents as well as in certificates; construction certificates. What has been raised eight metres is the side walls to avoid flooding. In fact it was to mitigate environmental damages. This has only been raised by six metres, not eight metres. You are claiming in your newspaper it has been raised by eight metres.

FT
: So it’s by six metres or eight metres?

Chairman: Six metres

FT: (referring to Wainisavulevu Weir Raising Project Brief): Why am I seeing eight metres here? What’s the difference?

Chairman
: I don’t think you’re seeing the weir at eight metres. I think you’re seeing some other structures.

FT
: Here is a copy of the report on your website. Tell me what am I missing here?

Chairman
: What report are you talking about?

FT
: The Wainisavulevu Weir Raising Project Brief. A quick Google search, it’s on your website. Click on Google Search. The Fiji Sun stated that it was raised by eight metres as per the commission by the prime minister in 2015. So what are we missing here? What am I not reading here?

Chairman: I think people are missing the facts. I am clarifying the facts and I am raising exactly the reason why I’ve called this press conference. I’m telling you the facts.

FT
: So it was raised by six metres and not eight metres?

Chairman: Absolutely! It was raised by six metres.

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