Wasted millions on bad roads

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Here’s the truth. Driving on the roads in some of the villages on the outskirts of Apia today is not just unpleasant, it’s a nightmare.

With some road workers doing a joke of job in filling in the potholes only to be washed away by the next heavy downpour, it’s disheartening to follow the headaches and heartaches caused by those pothole-ridden roads to poor members of the public. 

The struggle is real but’s nothing new. 

We see this every year and members of the public have become tired of it.

Ioane Fatu, from the village of Utuali’i, lives to tell of the struggles.

 “It’s not hard to notice that there is a big increase in vehicles entering our country but what’s the point when the roads are full of holes?” he said.

“When it starts to rain heavily then the state of the roads get worse and this worries me more and more. It’s definitely not good especially considering the prices of the cars nowadays.”

According to Ioane, something needs to be done about it.

 “There are many cars driving to and from the wharf, airport and town so the roads need to be done up properly for the sake of everyone.”

“For me personally, this issue should be one of the priorities because it costs the people so much money to fix up their cars which were ruined by the roads.”

Ioane is not alone. His views are shared by hundreds of motorists who have to put up with the sub-standard roads every day.

In the Weekend Observer last week, Levua raised a valid point. He blamed the idea of using chip seal to fix the potholes saying this is an utter waste of time and money.

“I see these road contractors just turning up and using chip seal,” he said. “You don’t do that. It’s wasting money on paying contractors, the existing tar and all the energy. Why? Because all that effort is easily washed away again.”

Levua said his concern is that it seems some road contractors know this cycle of making money.

“They seem to know what the problem is and yet they just keep repeating the same vicious cycle,” he said. 

“It’s crazy because you see the same issue every day from the east to the west of Samoa. You see these guys turning up with chip seal when you know it will only get washed away again. We are simply throwing away millions of tala everywhere.”

We couldn’t agree more with Levua.

The fact is the state of some of our roads are absolutely appalling. It is a crying shame and a very poor reflection of the government.

Nobody wants bad roads. It’s costing taxpayers of this country time, money and their hard-earned resources. Imagine the bill the government would be left to pay if drivers, who claim their vehicles have been damaged after hitting a pothole, were able to claim compensation from the relevant authorities? It would be huge. 

The worst part is this government’s inability to learn from the past. Every time it rains, our roads break to pieces. A few days of rain and they end up the way they are looking today. 

Hasn’t this government learnt anything about fixing the road after all those years? What about these companies contracted to carry out this sort of work year after year? What are they doing apart from making their money from taxpayers’ misfortunes?

The truth is, not a single day goes by without a vehicle being wrecked by the roads. These people complain among themselves quietly. For some reason, Samoans have a higher pain threshold. We’ve been suffering from this problem for far too long. 

The good news is that according to the Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, the government is moving swiftly to resolve the problem.

Using the four-lane road from Vaitele to Malifa as an example of a good road in Samoa, Papali’i wishes the government had the money to extend that sort of quality throughout Samoa. The snag of course is that it can’t. 

That’s because they don’t have the millions.

Come to think of it, with all the millions wasted on these mickey-mouse jobs of fixing potholes every year, how many more Vaitele four lane roads would have been completed by now if they were done properly in the first place?

What do you think?

Have a safe Wednesday Samoa and please drive carefully, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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