Asau’s Member of Parliament, Lopao’o Natanielu Mu’a, is optimistic about the plans in place to widen the channel at the Asau Wharf, saying the project will not bomb the channel.
His confidence is based on the fact that the excavating technology has advanced a great deal since the last major effort was made to deepen and widen the Asau channel in the 1960's.
“I’ve seen the type of specialised diggers that has been discussed for the channel excavation because I was in the construction industry that required that type of heavy machinery,” Lopao’o said.
“We are not blasting the channel; we are only excavating the hard rock."
“Blasting was what was done many years ago and I’m talking about big bombs about the size of the long church bells, excavation is better.”
According to Lopao’o, who is also the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, the reef blasting at the time caused serious damage to the marine life from the channel up to the lagoons in the Asau district.
It has been a slow road to recovery since for much of the sea life within that harbour.
Lopao’o said the blasting used to be the practice by the Ministry of Fisheries (M.A.F.) in response to requests from fishermen around Samoa, who found it challenging to bring their boats in and out of the channels near their villages.
“I said to them, I’m not going to do that because it’s going to do so much damage to the reef,” he said.
“That’s what happened to the marine life in Asau harbour when they bombed the channel to make it wider and deeper. The extent of those bombs at the time reached the lagoons and killed the fish in them.”
This time around, the Member of Parliament is confident in the process.
A date has not been set for the commencement of the excavations.
But the Asau Wharf is being billed as the newest International Port of entry for Samoa, two years from now.
“Funding to widen and deepen the Asau channel has been secured,” Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi said.
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.”