Hasmukh: How We Work Smarter

Productivity, in its essence, is about continuous im­provement. We must work smarter and not necessarily work harder. This was shared by the Fiji Electricity Authority chief executive officer Hasmukh Patel
20 Jan 2018 11:00
Hasmukh: How We Work Smarter
Fiji National University vice-chancellor Nigel Healey and Fiji Electricity Authority chief executive officer Hasmukh Patel at the Productivity Awareness Campaign launch on January 18, 2018.

Productivity, in its essence, is about continuous im­provement.

We must work smarter and not necessarily work harder.

This was shared by the Fiji Electricity Authority chief executive officer Hasmukh Patel at the launch of the Pro­ductivity Awareness Programme on Thursday.

“The biggest cyclone ever to make landfall in the south­ern hemisphere tore into Fiji, killing 44 of our people and displacing tens of thousands of others,” Mr Patel said.

“We lost a third of our Gross Domestic Product and our economy was only saved because Cyclone Winston spared our main tourism areas.

“While we still remember them, we were left with the daunting task of rebuilding this nation.”

The Cyclone Winston had put the FEA in a position that Mr Patel had never experienced before.

FEA’s journey post Tropical Cyclone Winston

FEA being the main electricity provider, had all its teams were working around the clock in the repairs and restora­tion of the affected power generations assets after Cyclone Winston.

Some of these assets include the 9,729kn1 of network in­frastructure (transmission, sub transmission and distri­bution) and retail assets (customer meters) that generates power to the nation.

“As they say, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get go­ing’ so did the FEA team,” he said.

Mr Patel had set the goal for his team to produce 90 per cent revenue in two months and he had determined the tar­get areas to achieve this goal.

“It was either a 90 per cent revenue or we make a loss.

“That is what productivity is about,” he said.

It took about six months for FEA to get the entire power system running.

But the 10 per cent of the revenue took about four months which was mostly in the rural areas.

He said for six months, members of the team had worked 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week without a break.

Mr Patel shared that he would spend five days in a week in his office then go to the sites and he would stress to his team the importance of getting the electricity meters to start spinning again “or else there will be no food on our table.”

“It is a simple equation, to get your salary, the meters have to spin and to get the meters to spin, you need to work really hard,” Mr Patel would tell his team at the site.

An assessment team from Australia and New Zealand, Mr Patel recalled, had anticipated that the damages on the FEA power infrastructure would take over 10 to 18 months for total repairs and restorations.

However, the FEA teams were able to complete the repairs and restoration of power supply to all affected areas with­in seven months.

Mr Patel said this was done through the support of the local contractors from the New Zealand and Tongan Lines Team as well as some donor partners in New Zealand and Australia.

Whilst the FEA teams were determined to assist the af­fected areas at the earliest, one of their objectives was to set up a National Control Centre in Navutu which linked up with the main National Control Centre in Vuda on the power res­toration.

According to Mr Patel, these control centres were manned by FEA’s graduate engineers under the guidance of the gen­eral manager network and general manager systems and planning.

“All intelligence comes from the man upstairs.

“You can try hard individually but you will not succeed.

“But if you knock on his door, all the intelligence will flow,” he said.

Importance of electricity

“The latest rankings on the World Bank Group Flagship Re­port 2017 for ease of doing business in Fiji is at 97 out of 190 and Electricity being one of the key indicators ranks at 82.

“FEA has over the years continued to assist in partnership with the Department of Energy on providing electricity to our rural communities.

“The Government is putting in place a solid foundation of essential services so that ordinary men and women can go about their lives without worrying about finding water, keep­ing the lights on at night or staying connected with the rest of our nation,” he said.

This year, the Government had allocated $42.6 million to electrify 6, 000 homes in rural areas across Fiji.

Mr Patel said $1.7m was spent on the electrification grid pro­ject that has provided a reliable power supply to 289 families by connecting five villages and three settlements to FEA’s grid.

He said this was only one of FEA’s larger Korovou to Raki­raki Grid Extension that is under development.

Only 90 per cent of the project work is completed and the 10 per cent will be completed by May or June this year.


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