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Making Nadi A Resilient Airport

When floods closed our main international airport for the only time in its history, economic shockwaves rippled through the tourism-dependent country. Nadi International Airport, built in the 1940s, is Fiji’s
11 Sep 2015 02:14
Making Nadi A Resilient Airport
Molly Murphy ... senior risk manager at Airports Fiji Limited makes her presentation at the ‘Make Your Business Disaster Resilient’ workshop in Nadi.

When floods closed our main international airport for the only time in its history, economic shockwaves rippled through the tourism-dependent country.

Nadi International Airport, built in the 1940s, is Fiji’s gateway to and from the world and when Cyclone Evan forced it to suspend flights in 2012, the tourism industry as well as many other sectors, took a big knock.

Molly Murphy, Senior Risk manager at Airports Fiji Limited, said the experience revealed how much of an economic lifeline the airport was and how its reliability was crucial to the country’s international reputation.

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, adopted this year by the international community, has curbing disaster damage to critical infrastructure as one of its seven targets to strengthen sustainable development.

The Cyclone Evan disaster prompted Airports Fiji Limited to revisit its already-extensive business continuity and contingency plans. Nothing was left unquestioned: Is there enough water on site?

Are the current partnerships with the transport and tourism authorities good enough? Does the emergency airspace transfer agreement with New Zealand need updating?

 

The structures

One of the main findings was the importance of maintaining clear drainage systems on and off site to prevent another closure after future cyclones.

“There are three main elements that underpin our approach to risk management,” she said.

“First, have the right structure, the right people and the right reporting lines.

“Second, back this up with the right technology, up-to-date equipment and know-how.

“Third, systemise the collection of your data and use it to reveal trends and inform your decision making.”

Ms Murphy said the executive chairman of Airports Fiji, Faiz Khan, has really encouraged staff to embrace a culture of safety in everything they do.

“We now have ownership of hazard risk by frontline personnel. This enables us to continually review risk and change the allocation of resources to manage that risk,” she said.

 

The workshop

Ms. Murphy was speaking at a two-day ‘Make Your Business Disaster Resilient’ workshop in Nadi.

The forum steered 32 managers through a step-by-step review of their current approaches to disaster and climate risk management identifying strengths and gaps.

The managers came from a cross-section of the Fijian economy, including the Ports Authority, various manufacturers, transport and logistics, tourism, banking, insurance and the Government’s taxation department.

 

Effects of Cyclone Evan

Cyclone Evan caused US$40 million in direct economic costs.

Indirect losses, such as business closures, reduced tourist numbers and job losses, are estimated to have been considerably higher. The cyclone affected 750,000 people, almost Fiji’s entire population.

The strengthening of Fiji’s infrastructure has emerged as a priority of government policy.

“We have invested heavily to improve our infrastructure – ports, highways, communications, airports and hospitals,” Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said in a recent interview with the Fiji Sun.

 

Workshop organisers

The ‘Make Your Business Disaster Resilient’ workshop was convened by the Fiji Employers and Commerce Association and facilitated by UNISDR’s Global Education and Training Institute, which is based in Incheon, Republic of Korea.

It is part of UNISDR’s increased engagement with the private sector, which is identified as a key partner in the implementation of the 15-year Sendai Framework. – writing for PreventionWeb

Feedback:  rachnal@fijisun.com.fj

 

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