Last week, we got a phone call from one of our readers reporting that the Vaisigano River had become something of a tourist attraction.
Sadly it was not for any good reason.
A cruise ship had berthed at the Moto’otua Wharf and many of its passengers were taking a stroll towards the centre of Apia.
However some of them were grouped on the bridge beside the Sheraton and seemed to be mesmerized by something in the water.
It was definitely one of those “Is it a bird, is it a plane?” moments.
It wasn’t till our reader stopped his car and looked over the bridge that he saw what had captured their attention.
It was a flotilla of the white polystyrene containers used to package food and particularly popular for weddings and fa’alavelave.
Maybe somewhere up the river there had been an event after which the polystyrene rubbish were been tossed into the river.
Or perhaps with the recent heavy rain, a rubbish site beside the river may have flooded causing the containers to float down to the sea.
Either way, it was a case of out of sight and out of mind – for those people at least.
But what, we wonder was going through the minds of the cruise boat passengers’ minds whose lasting memories of their short stopover in Samoa were now going to be about the sight of plastic trash floating down the river and eventually out to sea?
So much carelessly discarded, visible rubbish is very much at odds with the common sight of most of our population sweeping up the grass cuttings on their properties, trimming trees and hedges and weeding along the driveways and roadside verges.
These unsightly sights also do little to support or promote our image and that espoused by the Samoa Tourism Authority to the world about our clean, green, natural, pristine waters etc.
There is also the added, and often overlooked problems associated with illnesses arising from water borne and air borne rubbish.
In our front page story today there is a familiar tale about flooding along the very same Vaisigano area. And again there seems to be no successful solution from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to combat the annual flooding and destruction of peoples’ homes and belongings.
It seems that despite knowing every year that there will be torrential rain, nothing is done to address the issue except for short stop gap measures after which the problem resumes.
In and around the new market area, the problem with inadequate drainage also recurs every year. This is usually exacerbated because the drains have not been cleared of debris and blockages occur after the first showers causing flooding and the deterioration of the roads.
So what can be done?
Government can provide rubbish dumps; contract rubbish collectors and provide receptacles so people don’t drop their rubbish; government departments can plan better and those assigned to clearing out existing drains, can do so.
Oh and we, can dispose of our rubbish appropriately so that tourists visiting Samoa will be mesmerised by something other than rubbish floating on our rivers out to sea.