Police turn down firm's request to use explosives for quarry

The Ministry of Police has turned down a request by a local company to use "excess explosives" to blast quarry on Savai'i, which would be used to make cement for use in the construction of the Mali'oli'o bridge.

This was confirmed by Commissioner of Police, Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil in response to questions from the Samoa Observer. 

“These explosives were brought into the country for government projects and any explosives brought into the country has to be approved by Cabinet as well as Police Commissioner – under the law it is illegal in the country,” he said.

Fuiavaili’ili said the explosives were used to “blast quarries” to extract rocks for the Faleolo International Airport Project. 

“Other than that it is illegal to use it anywhere else,” he said and added that all the explosives were used. 

The explosives in question belong to New Zealand company Southern Screenworks, which was contracted by the Samoa Government to blast quarries specifically for the airport project. 

A civil engineer with Apia Lua Company based in Savai’i, Mata’afa Sepelini, confirmed when contacted by this newspaper that their company wanted had put in the request to the Police Commissioner.

“We are supplying the cement for the Mali’oli’o bridge and we are running short on the aggregate and the only way we can meet the demand is to blast the quarries," he said. 

“And that is why we requested to the (New Zealand) company for assistance in terms of their excess explosives as they did not want to store any explosives but the request was denied by the Police Commissioner."

The Mali’oli’o bridge is a Government-funded project through a $69.47 million grant from the World Bank and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 

Attempts by the Samoa Observer to get comments from the Christchurch-based company through email and telephone since Tuesday have been unsuccessful. 

When asked if there were any leftover explosives as suggested by the local firm, the Police Commissioner said all the explosives have been used. 

“All the explosives have been blasted in accordance with the law and the arrangement with this New Zealand Company. Samoa can sleep knowing there are no explosives."

Fuiavaili’ili said there is a rigorous process in place when it comes to bringing explosives into the country. 

“We have to be certain of the quantity and the purpose of these explosives; storage; transportation and how long before they can explode these explosives; and precautionary measures that have to be considered," he said.

“There is a stringent procedure in place for explosives and other Ministries are involved such as the M.W.T.I.; P.U.M.A. and F.E.S.A. and their input is required before any decision is finalized.”

According to the Commissioner, the permit also requires a specific location to use the explosives and that is where the other Ministries get involved as approval is needed where the explosives can be used. 

Transporting the explosives is another issue as only the Police have powers to escort and move them on public highways to ensure they reach their destination and are secured. 

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