Residents give approval but want a fence

Village residents near the yet-to-be-built Loto o Samasoni bridge say the road getting busier might put their children in danger and while they support the project, they want the Government to consider safety as an issue.

The Land Transport Authority will begin construction of the bridge next month and hope to have it ready before the Pacific Games in July.

Residents asked by Samoa Observer said they fully supported having better access over the Vaisigano River, but said they wanted fences to protect their children from the road.

"We have so many children playing around this area," said 59-year-old Peni Aurelio of Faatoia.

"After some family discussions we requested to [LTA] to consider building fences to protect us and our children."

"We have no will to go against the Government’s projects and we support it, as it helps us to make our transportation easier," Mr Aurelio said.

Next door, Lale Akari, 60, said he also asked the LTA for fencing.

"Now we will have to look out for our children every time to make sure they’re safe. 

As the bridge is completed the road towards the bridge will also be improved, and will include sidewalks. Mr Akari and Mr Aurelio said the Government offered some financial assistance to their family to account for a slight cutting back of their gardens to account for the road.

"The government is also planning to compensate our crops that will be affected by the project," Mr Akari said.

He does not yet know how much compensation the family will receive, but he hopes it will account for losses like their breadfruit tree.

"The breadfruit tree is one of the most reliable sources of food to our family and if all these breadfruit trees are to be removed because of the project then there will be no more free food for our family at all," he said.

"The only advantage of this project is that it will be an easier way for our children to go to school and come back, and a way to town as well," Mr Akari said.

On the other side of the river, 29-year-old Brian Alalatoa from Malifa said he fully supported the plans, because access to the National University of Samoa, Samoa College and Vaimauga College will become easier and quicker.

"Another thing is the transportation to town," Mr Alalatoa continued.

"The current situation is that there is only one main route here at Lelata so it’s always blocked during the days and it’s barely vehicle-free. 

"But now it’s nice to know that we’ll have a new bridge and a new main road to make it easier for transportation here and I think everyone should support the government in building this new bridge."

Additional reporting by Vaitogi Asuisui Matafeo and Talaia Mika

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