The incidents of flooding caused by the heavy downpour between the 8th and 16th January 2009 are considered the worst ever in Fiji’s history, worse than the floods caused by natural disasters of 1956, 1972 and 1999.
The Interim Prime Minister on 11th January 2009 declared a 30 day State of Natural Disaster for the Western parts of the country’s main island of Viti Levu.
The declaration was made in view of the widespread adverse effect of continuous rain brought in by the tropical depression and the difficulties of accessing adequate resources to respond effectively.
On Thursday 8th January the DIGICEL equipment room in the DIGICEL Nadi Building was powered down, as a precautionary action, as flood waters surrounded the building taking 71 mobile site off the air. These were restored 4 hours later as the water appeared to have stopped rising.
On Saturday 9th January, the water levels rose rapidly as the Nadi water catchment area saturated and water started entering the building and again the equipment was turned off. Later that same evening other sites on Viti Levu began to be affected i.e. Monasuva, Koro O.
Worked commenced ion Sunday 11th January to repair the sites in Suva. 15 sites were restored by Monday 12th, 25 by Tuesday 13th and a further 231 on Wednesday 14th. However, many more were going off air and could not be restored given the inability to access these site either by road or by helicopter.
As a result of the flooding the following services were impacted:
- Network optimisation
- Generator maintenance
- Site refuelling
- Out dialler project
- Edge Data Card Rollout
- Caller Ring back tones
- Checkpoint Firewall optimisation
- Roaming products (welcome SMS, roaming short codes)
- DIGICEL X
- New Island network planning
As a result of the flooding, many of the staff were re-located to Suva. This impacted communications and effectiveness of the technical department and increased the overall management and administration effort required.
Tim Cousins was appointed to assist with the testing and recovery of critical items forming the DIGICEL to Linksat (Earth-Satellite link) located in the DIGICEL International Communications Centre in Nadi.
The items involved were the:
- Media Gateway / Media Switching Equipment (main processing of communications from phone txt and data [Huawei])
- Base Station Controller (master controller for BTS units [Huawei])
- Interactive Voice Response / Private Branch Exchange (communicates between MGW and IVR/PBX + General office communications [CISCO / Fujitsu])
- GSM Project (optical fibre distribution / digital distribution frames [Huawei])
- Indoor and Outdoor Satellite equipment for international calls + data [Linksat]).