Dam project could be stopped, warns E.P.C.

The Alaoa flood control multi-purpose dam has its benefits but it could be halted if Magiagi residents continue to oppose it.

This is according to the Electric Power Corporation (EPC) Chief Executive Officer, Tologata Tile Tuimalealiifano, during consultations with residents at the O le Lupe Hall in Magiagi yesterday.

“That was one important portion of our discussions because that is one option is to withdraw the dam and so residents will face risks and effects of the stormy weather and natural disasters when they strike,” he said.

Tologata said the residents should make up their minds on the project, as it will be a wasted effort on the part of the Government if they continued to have “second thoughts”.

 “If the dam does not push through, that means the Government will not exercise its responsibility and what Government will just sit still while the nation struggles?” he asked.

Feedback from the residents point to concerns over the impact that the project will have on their wellbeing, and the risks that it could pose if the dam collapsed. 

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A chief from Magiagi, Taioaliiseu Taimalelagi Fiti, as an example made reference to the collapse of a dam in China in 2013 resulting in the flooding of many villages. 

“The same thing can happen to Samoa, as it happened to China and we want to make sure if you can reassure us, if the thickness of the dam can be strong enough to hold dangerous flooding when that happens,” he added.

But the EPC official, who also did a presentation on the project during the consultations yesterday, said the dam will be 200 meters long and 55 meters wide. She also said that scientists are still studying the thickness of the dam’s wall that will enable it to withstand heavy flooding. 

In addition to the risks that the dam could pose to the residents, they also raised concerns on the Government’s land ownership claims, saying their forefathers had been making gardens on the land since 1962 after the departure of the New Zealand colonial administration. 

Punaoali’i Fetulima Malopito Kopelani, who is the village’s female representative, said the residents have been working the land. 

“Samoa is now moving forward and the New Zealanders had gone back with those ownerships you are talking about, and Magiagi had been putting effort to develop these lands that you’re claiming it’s the Government’s,” she said. 

But EPC official Fonoti Perelini Perelini, in response, said they only implement Government policy and don’t make the decisions. 

The consultation yesterday between the EPC and the Magiagi residents was held to clarify some of the issues that were raised on the project including the risks the proposed dam could pose to the community and landownership.  

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