When Cyclone Gita exposes more than it should

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 15 February 2018, 12:00AM

This much is undeniable. It is when we are tested through the fire and floods that we find out just how strong we are – and in some cases how solid certain projects are.

Following the devastation of Cyclone Gita, it must be said that the quality of some aid funded and constructed projects are likely to come under scrutiny once more. Why? Well it’s simple really. 

Whether by accident or not, the release of a report by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the National Disaster Council and Disaster Advisory Committee, yesterday unveiled some very interesting findings.

At a quick glance, the update for the damage to “Infrastructure and Government Buildings/Facilities” immediately catches the attention. The report revealed severe damages to the T.A.T.T.E. Building, Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital and the recently renovated Tooa Salamasina Hall. 

Folks, the discovery stood out like a sore thumb because these are new projects. It wasn’t that long ago that they were dedicated and launched so it was certainly an eye opener. It will no doubt generate a lot of interesting discussion about the issue of quality in terms of construction. 

But don’t take our word for it.

This is what the report said: “The T.A.T.T.E. Samoa conference centre was severely damaged from TC Gita. The water entered the entire building from drainage making its way from the rooftop down to the main conference room on the second floor.”  

“The main conference area was about 15 – 20cm (ankle high) with water and due to continuous rainfall water still prolongs. Water seeped through the walls from the building as well as from the ceiling through the condition vents.” 

The report goes on to highlight that on the ground floor, the water entered the dining area and its surrounding.  

“The whole ceiling around the outside area is damaged from the water and after 2 days of the cyclone impact, water was still dripping from the ceiling,” the report continues. “There are visible holes on the ceiling as well as other damaged due to heavy rainfall.  The power supply remains off.  A thorough inspection is underway to assess the safety of the building and its integrity.”  

“Overall, building was damaged from water causing a large part of the ceiling to almost drop. Electrical wires are completely wet and many conference centre facilities were damaged from the rain.”  

Across the road at the To’oa Salamasina Hall, it wasn’t any better.

“M.W.C.S.D. in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance (M.o.F.) with the assistance of an engineer, conducted an assessment of the Tooa Salamasina Hall which was severely affected by the cyclone,” the report reads. 

“Damages to the building include damages to the roof of the part of the top floor facing T.A.T.T.E. Building.  Water leaked throughout the building, which have caused major damages to the walls, floor and the electrical wires and cables of the building.”  

“Due to the severity of these damages, the power could not be reconnected and coupled with poor building conditions, M.W.C.S.D. staff were advised not commence work until it is safe to use the building again.”  

“In light of these damages, M.W.C.S.D. is in urgent need of office space to operate as soon as possible and resources to renovate and rebuild To’oa Salamasina Hall.”      

But that’s not all, at Moto’otua, the recently completed multi-million-tala hospital sustained major damages. 

“A general assessment of the T.T.M. Hospital found three of the buildings have been noted to have sustained major damages in particular the northern parts of these buildings,” the report reads. 

“These buildings house the Emergency and Administration, I.C.U, Operating Theatre, Central Sterilization Services Unit, Delivery, Pharmacy, Laboratory and Admission Wards.”  

“Water seeped through the walls and ceilings.  Although they have been repaired, there is uncertainty about the structural integrity and safety.”

 The report says a “structural engineer is urgently needed to conduct a structural assessment of these buildings.”

We couldn’t agree more. Come to think of it, maybe that should have been done before they were opened. We’ll leave that to the engineers and people who know the industry best.

Don’t get us wrong, we’ve just been struck by a category 2 cyclone and damages are expected. But isn’t it ironic that of all the buildings and these buildings are highlighted by a report issued by the Government?

Who is responsible for funding and constructing these projects?

We did not say a word.

Have a wonderful Friday Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 15 February 2018, 12:00AM

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