Matautu wharf project hits hurdle

A public call to object to developments at the Matautu wharf has been made on Facebook, asking concerned community members to write to the Government and the Asian Development Bank to complain about the project.

The Matautu wharf is lined up for works to improve the breakwater before the port, deepen the basin, reconfigure the port precinct for efficiency, and install the first container x-ray scanner for Samoa. The Asian Development Bank is funding the works, as part of a project which is formally called the Samoa Port Development Project.

On Monday, O Le Siosiomaga Society Incorporated published Papali’i Malietau Malietoa’s plea to families to “not just sit around” when these works commence.

“Aiga o Toomalatai - Hello family, the Government of Samoa in conjunction with the Asian Development Bank is going to expand the wharf at Matautu,” the Facebook post reads. “It will affect Palolo Deep and our fishing areas, the traffic and heavy trucks moving in and out of the area will cause damage to the church because the ground will shake and the foundations of all the houses close to the Port Authority will be made structurally unstable. 

“The cement dust may cause cancer and will drift into the area where there is Aoga a le faifeau and where most of the kids play in our village. There are plenty of effects on us.”

Malietoa encouraged anyone who wanted to write to ADB expressing their concerns, and the Samoa Observer has been made aware some have begun doing so. On the ground, a consultation was held for ministries and the community on Tuesday, facilitated by project consultants and engineers OSM and Beca. 

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Fiu Mataese Elisara, executive director of OLSSI attended the meeting, and outlined his own concerns both at the meeting and in a follow-up letter to the consultation team. 

“Issues that affect communities [like] noise pollution, increased traffic hindrance, problem of dust, heavy traffic, negative impacts and nuisance to adjacent village lives… all these negative impacts are required to be compensated and I wonder if there was a budget in the project allocated for these compliance issues,” he said. “The [due diligence report] suggestion that these inconveniences are only temporary in nature is rather naïve as a number of these impacts are going to be irreversible, permanent, human inconveniences, impose stress and traumatic impact.”

Fiu and Papali'i shared concerns that Palolo Deep Marine Reserve could be at risk, because of any dredging work required of the existing breakwater dolos (concrete blocks the breakwater is made of), and said he is worried about the resulting impact on marine life.

Crucially, Fiu said, there is no reference to how the development project responds to climate change issues, and said he hopes to see some assessment there.

The ADB Initial Poverty and Social Analysis, from January 2017 is explicit that the port needs to be refurbished.

“The existing port facility at Apia is suffering from deterioration due to lack of preventative maintenance and capacity limitations, and vulnerable to seasonal oceanic intrusive swell conditions,” the report states. And the implementing partner in Samoa, the Samoa Ports Authority is behind the plans. Chief executive officer So’oalo Kuresa So’oalo said the works are needed, and will not only improve capacity at the port but introduce jobs and wealth into Samoa.

“Extra jobs will come with increased business. If trade increases that means we need more people,” he added.

Read more on page 5

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