Cross Island Road has been described as the “irony of all ironies.”
The description was given by motorists who say the part of the road from Tanugamanono all the way to Vailima has got to be one of the worst roads in Samoa. And yet the road is used by thousands of road users every day.
The section of the road in question is not only narrow, the heavy downpours have virtually turned the condition of the tar into something of an access road. It’s a disaster in the making, says one road user.
General Manager of Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, Margaret Silva, shares the same concerns.
She told the Sunday Samoan that for the 15 years she’s worked at the Museum, she has seen the condition of the road deteriorate.
“It has caused many problems for the residents who live in this area. It affects the business people, their clients and people working in the Vailima area, including vehicle owners,” Ms. Silva said.
“Two years ago the Land Transportation Authority (L.T.A.) came here to do a survey and still there has been no progress made with this road. There are usually guys who come here and try to maintain the road by just filling the potholes with mud but it does not help, it keeps getting worse."
“There are tourists who come here and the first thing they mention is the poor road condition. I don’t know how many times I have taken my car to get fixed because of this road."
“It is time that the Government should do something about it because the renewal of car registration is expensive."
She said when it rains, the water flow carries with it debris from the highlands which tends to affect the road users.
“The road is very narrow and there are times when it rains heavily and it washes the mud from the potholes which makes it look like it’s flooding when it rains."
“You will not be able to see some of the drainages that are on the side and there is a possibility that the car might drive into it.”
Edward Siemu from Vailima said the road is a safety hazard. Someone could one day get killed because of the poor design and condition.
“The road is so narrow and there are sharp turns which usually results in a car crash. There was a family in our village that lived close by the main road and because there were so many cars and trucks that crashed close to their house, they relocated,” Mr. Siemu said.
“The local Members of Parliament of this area should do something about this road because it is costing the people here so much money. Just recently, I had my car serviced and it cost me almost $2,000."
“It has been a very long time since the Government gave us their word that they will fix the road. I heard about it when I was still in school in 2004."
“I think they saw this road to be very useful and for it to be fixed because there were many important people living up here in Vailima and this whole area such as the High Commissioner of Australia, New Zealand, America and it was important that the road was fixed.”
“But the problem is that the government has invested in fixing other roads instead of this one. The government should be prioritising this area, because these are the people whom our country gets funds and help from,” said Edward.
Being a taxi driver along the Cross Island Road is not easy. Risati Aiono knows this very well.
The 45-year-old works at the Ray’s Taxi Stand, who has been around for more than 10 years. He shared the biggest problem that they are now facing as taxi drivers, is the road.
All the money that they earn from dropping their passengers off will all go into servicing their vehicles.
“We make many trips with picking up different people and tourists going from one place to another but it doesn’t help with the poor road. We are hesitating to take people from one place to another because of the road."
“This is how most of us here are earning money to support our families but the road is affecting us financially."
“The majority of the cars that we have are low cars here in our taxi stand, so there is a major possibility that it will get broken soon enough with the road."
“Once when there is something wrong with the car, it will then result to another problem after the other.”
Efforts to get comments from the Land Transportation Authority were unsuccessful.