Ports Authority happy with consultation on wharf project

A community consultation on proposed improvements to Matautu wharf was well attended and successful, according to Samoa Ports Authority chief executive officer So’oalo Kuresa So’oalo.

Community organisations, village leadership and government ministries gathered yesterday, to learn about progress towards upgrading certain areas of the wharf, in a consultation lead by consulting and engineering firms Beca and OSM.

So’oalo said the project will ensure necessary improvements are made to the wharf, so that Samoa can develop and ultimately prosper.

“For Samoa to develop… unless we open up for overseas trade, that’s the only way for future development. By inviting ships to come, we create jobs.

“That’s what we are here to do. An empty port means no business,” he said.

The development project will upgrade the electricity and powering at the wharf – to enable up to 300 refrigerated containers (reefer containers) to be powered, as well as improve safety at the wharf.

Samoa will also see a container x-ray scanner for the first time, and the breakwater will be improved to ensure as years go by the wharf will be protected from the elements.

“This huge development project is way out of our capacity to finance. We are very fortunate to be assisted by ADB,” So’oalo explained.

The Asian Development Bank has proposed to spend US$1 million from its technical assistance special fund, and US$ 56.26 million in grants towards the refurbishments.

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The work at Matautu wharf comes from the results of study by the ADB in 2015, where it looked at the future of the port, the weather and swell around it and an asset management plan. 

According to the ADB, the “single most important issue” is the wave swell, entering Apia Harbour from the north, cutting at least 20 good berthing days a year and affecting trade. 

The project, which is formally called the Samoa Port Development Project, proposes to improve the breakwater to alleviate this, and also deepen the basin, reconfigure the port precinct for efficiency, and ensure an x-ray scanner can be installed. 

So’oalo said by the end of the project, Samoa’s port will be readier to handle all incoming vessels, especially thanks to improved electricity.

“One of our biggest hurdles that we deal with is that we need to provide electricity for reefer plugging facilities, with the increase of the number of fishing vessels offloading here,” he said.

“Now, we have over 120 places but we can increase to almost 300.”

While he was pleased with the outcomes of the consultation, So’oalo said concerns are a normal part of large development projects, and he welcomes the feedback.

Some people present expressed their concerns about the environmental impact of the construction and the risks of the project. 

“For those that are in doubt, I want to assure them, for all the environmental issues, we have systems in place to address all those, and all the affected communities.

“If we meet face to face, I am willing to talk to anyone who is concerned.”

So’oalo also wanted to remind the community that the works are not particularly large, but rather necessary improvements on the wharf.

“People think we’re doing a huge extension, we’re not. We’re improving our services.”

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