The 65-year-old Vaisigano Bridge will soon be no more.
Instead a new and improved bridge is set to rise with the ground breaking ceremony yesterday.
The new $44million bridge will be 75 metres long. It will be located 20 metres away from the current. The road on the bridge will have two lanes, footpaths and street lighting as well as improvements to the roundabout at Matautu.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi said the development is an exciting step for the development of the Apia Township.
“As you are aware, the Vaisigano bridge is a vital part of the road network in Upolu connecting Apia and the industrial area to the west to Samoa’s only commercial port – the Matautu wharf.
It was first constructed as a seven-span, steel bridge and was later replaced in 1953 with a concrete bridge, which we all use to this day,” he said.
“While Vaisigano bridge has withstood the test of time, corrosion as well as the impacts of natural disasters have weakened its structure, despite maintenance and rehabilitation works.
“This also gave way to safety precautionary measures, such as the ban of large container trucks and heavy machinery from crossing the bridge.
“A technical assessment post Cyclone Evan 2012, recommended that the Vaisigano bridge has to be replaced.”
Japan is helping Samoa build the bridge.
“Consultations between the Government and its partners including the Government of Japan as part of the Cyclone Evan Recovery Plan, resulted in a commitment from the Government of Japan, to assist with the replacement of the Vaisigano bridge.
“A grant agreement for this purpose was signed on 27 July 2017 between the two governments to the amount of 1.8 billion yen (equivalent to $44 million). Construction is planned for May 2018.”
The Prime Minister said the ongoing improvement works at the Matautu port and the seawall are also funded by Japan hence the construction of the new Vaisigano Bridge will complement the works at the Matautu port and existing coastline adaptations.
“I would like to thank the Government of Japan for the financial assistance towards the design, construction and supervision of the Vaisigano bridge project. I am pleased to also acknowledge the presence here of the President of J.I.C.A. – Mr. Shinichi Kitaoka to witness the start of this significant project. I also acknowledge that we are joined by the consulting contractor for the design phase and the construction contractor has, as of recent, been finalized.
“It would be remiss of me if I did not acknowledge the Government Agencies led by the Land Transport Authority and the Non-Government Organizations, who have cooperated well and will continue to work closely for the successful implementation of this project.”
Dr. Shinichi Kitaoka said the reconstruction of the Vaisigano Bridge symbolises the continuation of the mutual friendship between Samoa and Japan, “bridging the two countries,” he said.