If pieces of the puzzle fall together, Asau Savai’i will be Samoa’s newest International Port of entry in two years from now.
“Funding to widen and deepen the Asau channel has been secured,” Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi is quoted as saying in a statement released by his Press Secretary.
And relevant government officials have been tasked with getting the Asau Harbour Development off the ground.
“To that effect, elevating Asau channel to international standards spells economic benefits for the Big Island and for the country.”
Currently the channel is ineffective and poses a high risk to access the Asau wharf because the channel is shallow.
But Tuilaepa is confident that with the right approach, Asau Wharf should be getting a long overdue facelift that will open up shipping access.
“Access to Asau should attract new investors, big businesses,” continued the Prime Minister.
“The potential for investors to lease lands for business developments and tourist accommodation facilities cannot be discounted.
“And it will translate to new jobs and fresh cash injected into the economy, not just Asau but across the board.
“It can also decentralize shipping services to the Big Island that should boost our trading capacities and of course tourism through Cruise Ships.”
“Government over the years has been silently planning the resurrection of the Asau Channel to its past days of glory when the timber operation in Asau was booming.
“That can happen again, now that we have secured funding as part of the Government’s strategy to develop our docks and ports to facilitate Samoa’s needs for the next 50 years.
In the mid-1960s, government funded a new harbour and wharf facilities at Asau to accommodate the operation of Potlatch, a large timber mill firm from the United States which moved toward full production in the early 1970s.
While it was Samoa’s largest employer during that time, the economy boom didn’t last.
Since then, the government has been looking at options for the return of the Asau Harbor as a major economic player.
In the last decade, government has engaged with the American Samoa based cannery StarKist Samoa to develop the channel and the dock as a location for a possible fish processing plant and transshipment facility, but it never amounted to anything.
It was all talk as government later found out that the cannery had used their proposal to government as leverage to their sale bid to new owners.