WAF moves back to Manohan building
The Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) has moved back to the Manohan Building at Laucala Beach following the all clear from the Ministry of Employment, Productivity, and Industrial Relations. The Water Authority Senior Management staff was told on July 1st that all pertinent documents had been reviewed by Government and the building was safe to […]
July 15, 2016 9:03 am
The Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) has moved back to the Manohan Building at Laucala Beach following the all clear from the Ministry of Employment, Productivity, and Industrial Relations.
The Water Authority Senior Management staff was told on July 1st that all pertinent documents had been reviewed by Government and the building was safe to return to work in.
Water Authority of Fiji is the major tenants in the building.
They vacated the building on April 29th when a series of small tremors caused them to evacuate.
The Government investigated the tremors and advised Water Authority of Fiji staff to stay out until it confirmed the building’s safety.
From April 29 to July 4 the staff has followed Government orders and stayed out of the building.
In that time WAF has been housed in temporary offices around Suva. The Authority has moved its Customer Service Centre back to the Manohan Building from its temporary location at Gaunilau House.
WAF senior management was told on July 1 that all pertinent documents had been reviewed by Government and the building was safe to return to work in.
Water Authority of Fiji Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Opetaia Ravai has said that the staff will continue to stay out of the Manohan building until “they receive an absolutely all clear.”
In a statement released today Mr. Ravai said:
RAVAI: “As of today we continue to follow the instructions from the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources to vacate our headquarters in the Manohan Building, and that is what we have done.”
RAVAI: “It would be helpful if the building’s Principal Engineer Vijay Krishnan met with Malakai Finau, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources to share his information with him so that we can move forward towards a final decision about the building.”
The statement said Mr. Krishnan told local media that he disputed the Permanent Secretary’s findings.
RAVAI: “At the end of the day all that matters to me is the safety of my 400 staff. We want to return to the building because it would solve a number of problems, but not if it is unsafe. We will await the final decision, hopefully by Monday.”
The WAF customer service centre is now located on the second-floor car park of headquarters under a tent and has served 180 customers since it was moved last Monday.
The finance department has moved into the Manohan annex next door to the WAF headquarters.
Despite orders to vacate the WAF headquarters in the Manohan Building in Nasinu, its staff of four hundred continues to outside the building premises, according to WAF CEO, Mr. Opetaia Ravai.
He said that the first priority after the evacuation last Wednesday afternoon was to ensure a continuity of customer services.
RAVAI: “We immediately made arrangements for our Call Centre to relocate to Wailoku in Tamavua. It took several days for this to happen but from Sunday we were fully operational and in the first day since we resumed service we had over 1,000 calls.”
“For our Customer Service Centre, the move has been more challenging. We tried to urgently find a storefront location in the central business district of Suva without success. So we literally moved the Centre onto the second floor of our headquarters parking lot and put it under a tent.”
Mr. Ravai said that was of extreme importance to the well being of WAF was to ensure its financial sector could continue to function without interruption.
RAVAI: “We moved its core operation over to the Manohan Building annex next door to headquarters. All transactions have continued uninterrupted.”
Mr. Ravai said that it was a tribute to the staff for adjusting to the demands placed upon them with literally no notice.
“I think we all understand the importance of water to our customers and the work associated with its continued availability to them.”
The Permanent Secretary for Lands and Mineral Resources, Mr. Malakai Finau has declared the Manohan building in Wainivula in Nasinu unsafe.
Mr. Finau said that further investigations conducted by the department identified existence of fault lines on the location of the building.
FINAU: “I have recommended to the CEO of WAF to vacate the building for their safety. But it is just a recommendation from us to them. Whether they take up the recommendation is up to them.”
“Because of the tension cracks we have identified and also there are uncertainties relating to the foundation studies that were done prior and during the construction of the building. With those regards, the uncertainties of the on-ground and foundation information, the existence of the cracks may have been tension cracks from the ground floor and the existence of the fault lines.
“So, we have recommended to WAF and to workers and the general public to vacate the building that’s based on the investigations we’ve done geologically and also based on our geophysical investigations that we’ve done.”
The general safety is a priority in this matter and Mr. Finau said that they do not want to wait for the investigations to be completed.
FINAU: “Its better to be safe than sorry. As soon as we come up with some key findings that would have to justify the protection and safety of the staff and the public.”
Mr. Finau said that only structural engineers could comment on the state of the Manohan building on whether rehabilitation can be done to the cracks in the building or if it is durable.
Mr. Finau said that there was no consultation with the owners of the Manohan building and that the Department have only dealt with the request of the Water Authority of Fiji (WAF).
FINAU: “We have just dealt with the request from WAF on whether there was an earthquake or tremor because they were concerned about the shaking. There are a variety of reasons that can lead to movements in the building.
“One reason could be induced by earthquakes and tremors. There are other geological reasons, such as, if it is on a fault line and the fault moves or if they’re settling or if there are settling in the foundation of the building.”
Investigations have continued today by the department to discover the geological profile and fault lines.
FINAU: “The only investigation at the moment is to define the profile of the sub-surface, from the foundation and down to hard rock. We did some geophysical investigations yesterday and is continuing today to ascertain the geological profile and the fault lines which we have identified through on the ground inspections yesterday.”
Investigations into the matter are said to take the department a few days to complete. Mr. Finau said that in order to determine the safety of the public in the vicinity more consultations will be needed with relevant authorities.
A final report is expected by the Department of Mineral Resources to determine the safety of the building.
Meanwhile, the WAF Call Centre is fully operational as is its Customer Service Centre now located under tent on the second floor parking lot outside the building. Additionally, finance has been moved to the adjacent Manohan annex.
In a statement Water Authority of Fiji CEO Mr. Opetaia Ravai said:
RAVAI: “While we continue to sort ourselves out, customer services are operating as a priority. All of our operations, outside of the headquarters, throughout Fiji remain as normal. We regret any convenience to our customers the evacuation may have caused.”
The headquarters were evacuated last Wednesday (27 April) by its staff of 400 following tremors that shook the building.
The Permanent Secretary for Lands and Mineral Resources, Mr. Malakai Finau confirms that the tremors which were felt by Water Authority of Fiji staff at Manohan building on Wednesday were not caused by earthquakes.
Mr. Finau said they are yet to determine what caused the tremors but their initial findings point to the structure of the building.
FINAU: “It’s to do with the structure of the building, there were tremors as to when the Water Authority of Fiji first came to us, there was no earthquake at that time we couldn’t link it with an earthquake event so they thought initially that it was an earthquake event but it wasn’t.”
“It’s do with the structure of the building, to do with how it was built on that particular ground. Given that there was now earthquake, there was no tremor at the time the movement was reported so it seems to indicate that its more to do with the structure of the building.”
Mr. Finau said the results of today’s seismic tests will be available tomorrow.
The Department of Mineral Resources is currently carrying out tests on the Manohan Building in Nasinu where the Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) head office is located.
A survey team from the Department of Mineral Resources and the Manohan building Chief Engineer are separately compiling their findings, which are expected to be released on Tuesday, and will determine the safety of the building.
The Fiji Roads Authority (FRA) has confirmed that Wainivula road in Nasinu is now closed and will be opened at 6pm.
In a statement FRA Project Manager for the Nadi and Suva Road Upgrading Project (NASRUP) Zaina Khan said the Mineral Resources Department will facilitate the seismic testing of the Water Authority of Fiji building to confirm the structure is still able to withstand earthquake movement.
KHAN: “The testing is essential to ensure the safety and security of personnel returning to work in the building as soon as possible.”
The Manohan building is headquarters to Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) and its 400 staff. Staff were evacuated last Wednesday afternoon (27 April) after they experienced several tremors that shook the building. They are not expected to return unless they are told that it is “absolutely safe”.
WAF CEO, Opetaia Ravai, said that in dealing with the temporary closure, measures are now being taken to ensure customer services can continue.
For instance, the WAF Call Centre has been temporarily shut down but is expected to resume receiving customer complaints and requests from today. It will be operating out of WAF offices in Wailoku.
Additionally, WAF is presently investigating a location for its Customer Service Centre in Suva and will announce the new location after it is finalised.
RAVAI: “While we evacuated the headquarters because the ‘absolute safety’ of our staff always comes first, we have not forgotten the importance of our customers.
“The new arrangements are temporary but will ensure that our customers continue to be listened to. All of our operations outside of headquarters will continue and that means responding to customer concerns.
“But we do apologise for any inconvenience our customers may experience. Whatever the outcome, we are committed to our customer service.”
Two small earthquakes experienced at the Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) head office yesterday saw the Manohan building, Nasinu, evacuated and workers sent home until the Department of Mineral Resources completes a safety survey.
WAF Chief Executive Officer, Mr Opetia Ravai, said that the first tremor took place at about 10:00am, followed by a second at around 2:30pm.
RAVAI: “The safety of our workers comes first. We have instructed the 400 employees working at head office to work from home today until the ‘all-clear’ is given by the Department of Mineral Resources survey team.”
“We await their report on whether or not there has been any damage to the building.”
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