24 Jun 2013

Niue MP calls for greater overseeing of electrical wiring

5:27 pm on 24 June 2013

An MP in Niue says there has to be greater oversight of the quality of electrical wiring on the island.

Terry Coe's concerns come after a young girl was electrocuted last month.

And another girl was hurt earlier this year in an incident for which the Niue Power Corporation has accepted its staff were responsible.

The corporation's general manager, Speedo Hetutu, says they are thinking of having inspectors brought in to improve standards.

Terry Coe told Don Wiseman this is something he has been pushing for for years.

TERRY COE: Yes, that's the case. I've said that we haven't got any standard at the moment, even though we've got some basic electrical rules and that. But there's no-one here to enforce those rules. People who are doing the electrical repairs should be inspecting their own work to say it's all up to standard. We should have an independent person. Maybe we don't need an electrical inspector here all the time, but maybe we need a person to come up and do a thorough check now of all the buildings and housing and even the transmission lines and things at the power house. And he does a report and then he can perhaps run some practical tests with the existing registered electricians, and make sure they are up to standard. I think that'll be a good idea.

DON WISEMAN: When we talk about registered electricians, their qualifications are from where? New Zealand?

TC: No, Niue and there's a couple from New Zealand that have registered there, as well. Bu they need to be working constantly in the job and not off and on as electricians. And, as I say, I'm not sure if you have to be retested in New Zealand, but it would be a good idea to give our people the checks and then make sure that they are capable of doing the work up to a required electrical standard.

DW: How bad is the electrical infrastructure?

TC: It is bad. And we're asking people to come back to stay on Niue and a lot of them are using the old houses even for holidays. And they ask for the power to be connected on. And that's it. The power is connected on, but the wiring is shocking within those houses because it hasn't been used for so long. And the rats, as well and the cyclones, such as Heta, have put a big strain on all those power places, especially close to the sea.

DW: The power corporation says it's only had one incident. This recent one involving the young girl in Makefu is the only one involving its workers in the past five years. Is that your memory of what's happened?

TC: Probably so. But, you know, I think it's just luck at the moment, and we shouldn't be working on luck to not have the accidents. It should be checked out, all the wiring, and then we can make sure there won't be any accidents like that. Whether people are just injured or people are actually killed like this girl, it needn't happen if things are done properly.