Residents of Asau, Auala, Vaisala and Sataua should pay only 50 percent of their water rates to the Samoa Water Authority.
So says the Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructures, Papali’itele Niko Lee Hang.
The Minister made the point in Parliament last week, responding to an issue raised by the Member of Parliament for Vaisigano No.1, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua.
Lopao’o questioned the quality of water at Asau, Vaisala and Auala. He said it was unsafe for consumption. The M.P. raised the issue when the Supplementary Estimates for 2016-2017 was discussed.
Lopao’o wondered if there are funds allocated to fix the water problems for the district.
“It’s unsafe for drinking as it contains bacteria,” said Lopao’o.
Turning to the Ministry of Health, Lopao’o said they should be alarmed about the health implications of the water.
“I am assuming that the Ministry of health is lazy to do it is because there are no funds available for them to do it,” he said.
“The Ministry of Health is responsible for making sure that our people are drinking clean water.”
Lopao’o went on to say that in a report received on 22September 2016, the water was declared unsafe for consumption for people living in the area.
“The report shows that the water is not clean enough for the people and therefore it is unsafe. But up until now, we are still waiting for them to do something."
“People’s lives are at risk because of the water they drink. I believe this is not the responsibility of the Minister. The Ministry is responsible for making sure the water that people drink is clean and healthy.”
Lopao’o then turned to the Samoa Water Authority and questioned their work in making sure our people are drinking clean water.
He said the goals specified in the Sustainable Development Goals include environmental goals such as the provision of clean and healthy living conditions; therefore, they should prioritise this issue.
“I also think the C.E.O. of the Samoa Water Authority is just rocking around, and not doing anything because she is in charge of the Ministry,” he said.
“If nothing will be done to fix this problem, the people will just suffer. They told us that there is not enough money to fix the problem, but if that’s the case, then talk to the Minister."
“This is a very important issue because it’s affecting the people of my district."
“They should investigate and carry out consultations in Savaii to make sure that the people are drinking clean water. But they replied saying that there is not enough money."
“But this is a priority; however, it seems like they are not prioritizing the basic needs of our people.”
Lopao’o said if the Samoa Water Authority cannot find solutions to the existing water problems, it would be wise for those responsible to tender their resignations.
In response, Papali’itele, the Minister responsible for S.W.A, said in his opinion, people living in this area should only pay 50 per cent of their water rates, owing to the poor quality of the water.
In response to requests for boreholes, Papali’i asked for patience.
Contacted for a comment, the Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa Water Authority, Seugamaali’i Jammie Saena assured that they are working on fixing the problem.
“We are aware of this problem,” Seugamaali’i told the Samoa Observer.
“Another borehole at Sataua is to be drilled to address the salinity issue."
“We’ve had delays due to the drilling rig which broke down last year after drilling Gataivai and the parts are manufactured in Australia and the U.S. and are not off the shelf items.”
Seugamaali’i said they are hoping to start drilling by the end of February once the rig id fully operational.
“We ask for patience, we are working as hard as we can to accommodate everyone’s water needs.”