When the rain exposes those potholes.

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

The rain during the past few days have unraveled the same old problem we’ve been dealing with for years, especially on some of the most frequently travelled roads in Apia, the outskirts of town and right across Upolu.

We know this issue is not new and we’ve raised this point time and time again. 

But unless you’re a public servant driving a publicly owned vehicle which means you don’t therefore need to worry about the maintenance bill, the impact of poor roads is something that affects just about everyone in this country. And it pains where it hurts the most, in the pockets.

For every car damaged by a pothole costs money, money that could be spent on better things.

Indeed, when it comes to the rain and potholes, it’s almost as if they exist to remind us every time that all that glitters is not gold. We see so much flash developments in our country today by way of tall buildings and what have you and yet a simple problem like fixing the roads we have not been able to do.

And no road tells a better story of negligence and ignorance than one of the most used pieces of roads in Upolu, the Cross Island road. That is something, isn’t it?

But that’s just one road. You see, wherever you go in Samoa, potholes confront you. You hear the rattling tires and suspensions screaming out, you see traffic being brought to a standstill as drivers try to negotiate their way through them. 

For crying out loud, this is 2016. 

What’s worse is that it appears that with the exception of a few road-making companies, the rest of the roads in Samoa are the same. 

Which begs some questions we’ve been asking time and time again, why have we not been able to do anything about this problem after all these years? 

Where have the millions that the government has allocated for such infrastructure gone to? 

And where are the companies that are responsible for these poorly constructed roads? Why do they keep getting contracts when their workmanship is so pathetic? Who is supposed to monitor their work?

 If the work is not being monitored – and the culprits held to account – what is the government doing about it? And if the relevant authorities are not dealing with it, why should we waste taxpayers’ money paying them?

Keep in mind that there are two sides to a story.

We’ve also been told that the way the government agencies responsible for the roads treat some of these contractors is absolutely pathetic. That’s to say that despite signing contracts, it appears that some public servants feel they could do whatever they like and drastically cut the monies owed to these contractors for one reason or another. 

What that means is that some of the road contractors will only provide services for what they are paid. And no they cannot tar seal roads in the rain. Which is understandable from a business perspective.

So who monitors the government’s performance then? 

And how long more will we wait for these poor roads to be fixed now that the election has just finished?

We ask these questions because these roads are costing motorists and members of the public their hard-earned tala in repairs, on top of annual – sometimes twice a year – registrations. 

It would be interesting to see how much money members of the public spend due to the damage caused by these poor roads.

Think of the suspensions, tyres and all the mechanical problems caused by these bad roads. And think of the safety issues and cost in terms of time and money when people are late to work and other commitments.

The point is that after all these years; you’d think some things would change by now. And yet we see the same thing over and over again. 

Every time it rains, the potholes emerge. They get bigger and meaner. Some are so big they could swallow someone alive.

We’ve only had roughly a week of rain this time and the ugly reality has emerged yet again for all to see. It’s astonishing.

In our humble opinion, they speak of a country that looks beautiful from afar but not all is well when you look closer. And this truth always has a funny way of revealing itself, when we least expect it.

Take the potholes for instance; it is the ultimate sign of poor work and planning that are openly exposed by the weather and the elements conditions. How many millions have we spent on these roads and yet it’s the same thing over and over again? 

Now here is seriously hoping for better roads. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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