Matautu Wharf project will not include dredging, or extensions: Samoa Ports Authority

Nearly two months after the Samoa Ports Authority (S.P.A.) met stakeholders on the proposed developments at Matautu Wharf, S.P.A. Chief Executive Officer So'oalo Kuresa So'oalo has responded to questions raised at the consultation.

SPA is working with the Asian Development Bank (A.D.B.) on a development of the Matautu Wharf, to raise the breakwater and defend against rising sea levels for the next 100 years, as well as lower disruptive sea swells to works at the port. Early in March, the authority met village chiefs and villagers to sound out its idea and hear feedback.

Non-government organisation O Le Siosiomaga Society Incorportated (O.L.S.S.I.) Director Fiu Mataese Elisara attended the consultation, and spent nearly 50 days waiting on comprehensive responses to his questions. Now, he says he has seen "exactly the kind of response" needed by S.P.A.

As the proposed project and feasibility studies have been funded by the A.D.B., S.P.A. must adhere to the bank's stakeholders engagement processes, and accountability standards. Fiu said he feels So'oalo's in-depth response to his questions meets that requirement. 

Among Fiu's concerns was the environmental impacts of the development, as the initial proposal included deepening the wharf area, and dredging there. But So’oalo said work will no longer be happening.

A further review of the feasibility study suggested that actually, extending the breakwater as recommended in the Ports Master Plan Study was not economically viable, and that instead it would be “enhanced and strengthened” rather than extended, to defend against the negative impacts of climate change. 

The initial plans to narrow the width of the wharf channel “compromises navigation safety", and as such will not be part of the plan if it goes ahead, So’oalo said.

A Due Diligence Report (D.R.R.) is being prepared to reflect the amended proposal, and will be available when it is completed, he added. 

Fiu maintains that developments to the port will affect the surrounding villages in several ways: “noise pollution, increased traffic hindrance, problem of dust, negative impacts and nuisance to adjacent village lives". He said he has not yet seen a compensation plan to the villages for dealing with these issues. 

“The D.R.R. suggestion that these inconveniences are only temporary in nature is rather naive as a number of these impacts are going to be irreversible, permanent, human inconveniences, [and] impose stress and traumatic impact,” he said.

In his response, So’oalo said a preliminary environmental assessment report and an environmental management plan will be provided to SPA and all stakeholders in the waterfront development plan. Already, potential impacts to nearby Palolo Deep Marine Reserve have been assessed, and the Marine Ecological Assessment Report claims the breakwater reconstruction will not be impacted.

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