Govt. moves forward on Vaiusu, Asau wharves

The Government is proceeding with plans to develop wharves in Vaiusu and Asau, with a financial feasibility study into the projects, set to begin this month. 

Samoa Port Authority's Chief Executive Officer, So’oalo Kuresa So’oalo, said a study on the wharves' finances would begin at the end of the month. 

Asked about additional developments for Asau, So’oalo said they would be included in any project once underway. 

“The Asau wharf will also be covered in the same feasibility as Vaiusu,” said the C.E.O. 

The Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, said the Government is dealing with a feasibility study first.

"We have to go through the feasibility study stage first then determine from there whether funding will be provided,” he said.

“We don’t know who will conduct the study, the Chinese [government] has agreed to assist with the wharf projects and they will conduct the study or perhaps bring in the consultancy agency that will."

In June, 2019 Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi announced on his weekly media programme the proposed wharf in Vaiusu will be funded by the Chinese Government.

“The talks about a wharf in Vaiusu to be funded by Chinese were initiated by the Samoa Government not the Chinese," he said.

Discussions to build the wharf at Vaiusu began during the time of Prime Minister Tupua Tamasese Lealofi between 1970-1973, added Tuilaepa. 

Former politician and ecological expert, Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, warned against the proposed Government’s Vaiusu project shortly after the Prime Minister’s announcement. 

He argued the project "will have an infinite environmental cost and lead to the loss of biodiversity, accelerated flooding and the displacement of communities.

“We need the look at the other very real costs to the people of Samoa, these include relocating the majority families of the coastal side of villages from Toamua to Sogi.  

"As many as 10,000-20,000 people and businesses in this part of Faleata will need to be relocated. 

“This whole area will be monopolised for the construction and dedicated to the wharf solely when its operational,” he said in a commentary.

“The breadth and depth of environmental costs are infinite. Highlighting a few such as loss of biodiversity, loss of significant ecosystems, flooding, and increasing vulnerability to climate change natural disasters are too obvious not to highlight.

“The intricate balance between environmental issues and income and livelihood must be expressed.”

Papali’i told the Samoa Observer an existing predicament about coral bedding at the Asau project would also be examined.

“There has been several attempts to destroy the coral bedding that is interfering with maritime traffic," the Minister said. 

“We are looking at donors to conduct a survey and ways in how to get rid of the coral or could be lava so free up the channel.

“Once that is done then we can open up the wharf for cruise ships and attract tourists to explore that side of the island in Asau. 

“That is the government’s plan in reviving the wharf. There are quite a few investors interested in using the port for alias and vessels from Asia but that is the problem the wharf cannot be used because it is unsafe and it needs to be surveyed first.” 

According to the Minister, dynamite had been used previously in attempts to destroy the coral blocking the channel. 

The wharf was constructed in the 1960s to support the logging operations of American company Potlatch Corporation. Its operations ended in 1976. 

The mouth of Asau Harbour is blocked by a coral reef. The breakwater protecting the bay is an old American airstrip from the Second World War. 

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