Tongan team in NZ to inquire after alleged “unrealistic” $50 million cable deal signed by former government

Kuo ‘i Nu’u Sila ha timi mei Tonga ke faka’eke’eke fekau’aki mo ha aleapau konituleki fe’unga mo ha pa’anga $50 miliona ne fakamo’oni’i ‘e he pule’anga ki mu’a’ mo e kautaha fetu’utaki Hawaiki ‘i Nu’u Sila. ‘Oku fiema’u ‘e he timi ke ‘oange ange’ ‘e he kau ma’u mafai Hawaiki ha fakatonuhia ‘oku ‘uhinga mālie ange’ki he konituleki lau miliona’ ni. Ko e Hawaiki ko e kautaha ‘oku ne fehokotaki e ‘initaneti faipa ‘a Nu’u Sila mo ‘Aositelēlia ki Ha’amoa ‘Amelika, Hawai’i mo e hihifo ‘o ‘Amelika’. Ka ‘oku taalafili e Kautaha Keipolo ‘a Tonga ki he ‘uhinga ke fakamoleki ai ha pa’anga lahi pehē ‘i he ‘uhinga ke malu’i ‘e he kautaha ha maumau ‘i he kaha’u ‘a e ‘initaneti keipolo ‘a Tonga’. ‘Oku pehē ne ‘osi totongi ‘a e $6 miliona ka e hoko’i e keipolo ‘a e Hawaiki ki he keipolo ‘a Tonga ki Vava’u’. Ko e timi fakatotolo mei Tonga’ ‘oku tataki mai ‘e he Talēkita ‘o e Keipolo ‘a Tonga Paula Piveni Piukala pehē kia Minisitā Tu’i Uata.

A team from Tonga has arrived in Auckland to inquire about a TP$50 million contract agreement signed by the former government with the Hawaiki telecommunications company.

The team wanted Hawaiki authorites to give them a clearer picture of the contract.

Hawaiki decribes itself as “a new fibre optic cable linking Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa, Hawaii and the US West Coast”

The company, which began commercial operations started in July last year,  claims to have a 15,000 km telecommunication cable connecting 356 million consumers in Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa, Hawai’i and the continental United States, with branches to New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga.

The Tongan team is led by Tonga Cable Ltd (TCL) Director Paula Piveni Piukala and Minister of Trade and Econmic Development Tu’i Uata.

Hon. Uata claimed that former Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni signed the contract, but that TCL later began to question whether or not the large amount of money being paid from taxpayers money was justified.

Hon. Uata said Tonga paid TP$6 million dollars so that the Hawaiki cable connecting New Zealand and Australia to Hawai’i and Los Angeles was connected to the Vava’u fibre cable in Tonga.

He said the TP$50 million was paid to the Hawaiki in exchange for a gurantee of repair services if the cable in Vava’u was damaged.   

Piukala said it “did not make sense” to pay such a large amount of money just in case the cable might be damaged in the future.

However, both men said that if, after talking to the New Zealand authorities, the TP$50 million deal appeared to be justified, they would be satisfied.

While in New Zealand they will meet their lawyer, Dr Rodney Harrison.

“We are here to mitigate a win win situation,” Piukala told Pacific Media Network this evening.

Other cable services

In January this year damage to an undersea cable knocked out most of Tonga’s internet capability for 12 days. The government  used satellite connection to supply partial service until the cable was repaired.

In April this year the Tongan government signed a 15 year contract with Kacific Broadband Satellites Group to provide high speed broadband via satellite to the Pacific Island nation.

The satellite bandwidth will be used to connect communities in 89 remote outer islands. In the case of a fibre cable outage, the satellite bandwidth can be shared with Tonga’s main centres.

Tonga also has an agreement with French company Alcatel for the provision of  a fibre optic cable system connecting Nuku’alofa and Vava’u with a branch to Ha’apai.

The main points

  • A team from Tonga has arrived in Auckland to inquire about a TP$50 million contract agreement signed by the former government with the Hawaiki telecommunications company.
  • The team wanted Hawaiki authorites to give them a clearer picture of the contract.
  • Minister of Trade and Econmic Development Tu’i Uata said questions had been raised about whether the amount of money being paid from taxpayers money was justified.

For more information

Haiwiki

Tongan Government signs deal with Kacific

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