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Mali'oli'o River continues to burst its banks

The Mali’oli’o River in Samalaeulu, Savai’i continues to burst its banks as construction work presses on to build a new bridge in the area. 

According to the Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, the river burst its banks about four times since construction started, even though there was no rain. 

But he gave the assurance that the construction workers are not in danger and are well aware of the river's unusual natural developments. 

“There are times when it is really sunny and the river burst,” Papali’i told the Samoa Observer. 

“It has done that about four times since the construction works began despite the day being sunny. 

“It is surprising that the river flows in this kind of weather and it can burst at any time, and the (construction) workers are aware of that and are prepared at all times.”

Papali’i explained that the construction work has moved to higher grounds and should not be affected if the river bursts its banks again. 

Attempts to get a comment from the project manager for the Mali’oli’o development within the Ah Liki Construction Company were unsuccessful. 

The Mali’oli’o is the second largest river on the island of Savai’i and is known for its intense current. It has claimed several lives in previous years. 

In January 2012 the river claimed the lives of a couple who attempted to cross the ford despite the strong flow of the current. 

The construction of the new bridge in Mali’oli’o, which is being built at a cost of $7.64 million is expected to be completed and commissioned next year.   

According to Papali’i, if the weather permits the project will be officially opened by then. 

He added that at the moment villagers and travelers are using the ford to cross the river. 

Construction of a bridge over the Maliolio River near Samalae’ulu was proposed over 30 years ago, when the Government commissioned the construction of a bridge in the exact location of the proposed bridge. 

Those construction plans was halted when the decision was made to upgrade the existing concrete ford instead. 

The work in the new project include a new reinforced concrete arch bridge 26m long, building a new reinforced concrete box bridge 11.4m long, and to construct a new single carriageway chip-seal surfaced road 1.5km long with 3 intersections, drainage, road marking and signage. 

It is part of a US$26.35 million grant from the World Bank and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), to restore key road sector assets damaged by extreme weather events and to enhance the climate resilience of critical roads and bridges in the country. 

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