A ground-breaking ceremony to kick start work for the $82million Apia Port Safety project funded by Japan took place at the Matautu wharf yesterday.
The expansion and enhancement project is to allow larger cruise-ships to dock at Matautu and facilitate for more storage space for containers.
Japan’s Ambassador to Samoa, Tuimaugaoali’i Kazumasa Shibuta said the port is important, as it is a door to connect Samoa to the outside world.
He described the port as a “life line.”
This is particularly crucial in the transportation of products such as agriculture crops, fishery products, food and fuel and a pathway for tourists from cruise ships.
“The project was a request from the government of Samoa to the government of Japan in August 2013 as a Japanese grant assistance,” he explained.
“During that period the port was not fully recovered due to damages caused by the powerful cyclone Evan, as you can remember it was covered by huge logs carried by destructive flood.
“Corresponding to the request J.I.C.A. then dispatched the survey team to Samoa for checking such damages and survey for possible rehabilitation as immediate as possible in an exceptional case.”
As a result, an Exchange of Note of the project was signed in June last year between Prime Minister Tuilaepa and Tuimaugaoali’i, promising a grant of $82million.
The three components of the project include an extension of the wharf up to more than 300meter for safety landing of cruise ship.
The second one is rehabilitation and expansion capacity of deteriorated container yard creating more than twice the capacity and the improvement of tugboats and navigation system.
The Ambassador said the project is expected to stimulate the economy through employing local workers and purchasing construction material from local market.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa acknowledged the support of Japan and its contribution to the development of Samoa.
He recalled that for the past twenty years, Japan has assisted in upgrading the ports including fisheries wharf facilities and to improving inter-island and international ferry services.
Tuilaepa stressed the fundamental need for improved transportation in the development of Samoa.
“This is in order to address challenges of isolation and distance in markets,” he explained.
“The enhancement work will allow for bigger cruise-ships like the MV Crown Princess and Queen Victoria which has a length of 294meters to dock here.”
While the expansion will make more room for storage and to dock bigger ships, Tuilaepa said it will face another problem of smaller space for ships to turn around.
“It will provide more space for cars to travel but the ships will face another problem of not enough room to turn around which means we will have to look for another solution for that in the near future.”
J.I.C.A dispatched a survey team to Samoa from in June 2014 to conduct a series of site inspections including topographic surveys, soil investigations and an environmental survey which sees the much needed improvement of Apia Port from deteriorated conditions due to Cyclone Evan's aftermath in 2012.
Approximately 97 percent of the foreign trade cargoes of the country are handled in this port, and is the most important social and economic infrastructure in the country.