One chapter closed and a new one opened when the transmission tower of Radio 2AP crumbled towards the sea yesterday.
The brief ceremony marked the start of work to replace the radio station’s 60-year-old equipment.
Last month, former Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop pledged A$4.1 million (T$7.8 m) in funding towards the installation of a brand-new radio tower to service Samoa and her Pacific neighbours.
At 9am, a horn sounded and the first cables were cut from the guide wires. In one smooth motion, the mast was felled, crumpling at the joins where years of exposure had caused rust. The top 20 meters fell exactly as planned over the seawall and into the ocean.
A team was on site ready to begin the clean-up job, which included a crane to lift the mast and dismantle it.
New Zealand Government telecommunications company, Kordia arrived on Monday to prepare the site, which included migrating wires from around the tower to ensure it could be felled with just one action.
A large perimeter zone was cordoned off from the public when the mast was cut down, which covered the ground between the Court House and Mulinuu N.U.S. Campus.
Towards the 9am mark, a canoe was spotted in the water close to where the mast was due to fall. Police and the rigging team assisted in safely escorting them out of the cordoned perimeter.
Assistant C.E.O. of the Ministry Information and Technology, Talatalaga Matau Matafeo said the felling of the tower is going to be a part of Samoan history.
“The 120-meter mast has been serving our country for almost 30 years now – this is one of those days we will always remember.”
The project to replace the mast was supported by the Ministries of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Natural Resources and Environment, Police and the Land Transport Association, and Revenue and Finance.
“With these operations, we need to bring everybody together,” said Talatalaga.
“Everybody played their role as they were supposed to, and that is why we completed the operation successfully.”
Next week, Kordia will begin installing a temporary 57-meter mast, which will service Radio 2AP until construction on the 80-meter replacement can begin after the cyclone season. The new mast is scheduled to be fully built by September 2019.
Whilst the temporary mast is being built, listeners can tune into 101.1FM for all government broadcasts, and can call to the same phone numbers while 5.40AM is out of service.
Speaking on behalf of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian Government, Acting High Commissioner Amanda Jewell said transmission facilities ought to be modern, functional and climate resilient.
“This unique Pacific Media Assistance Scheme initiative, funded with Australian Aid and managed by ABC International Development, will provide essential emergency communications during cyclones and other natural disasters."
“Maintaining communications and connectivity with rural and isolated communities is vital and lifesaving - during disasters.”
Radio 2AP transmission tower was built in 1948, and is primarily responsible for informing Samoans when natural or national disasters occur. The station also broadcasts in American Samoa, the Cook Islands and Tokelau.