Inter-island bridge plans must be reviewed properly

An engineer has praised plans by the Government to consider building an inter-island bridge to link Upolu and Savai’i.

But practising engineer and Institute of Professional Engineers Samoa member, Leiataua Thomas Tinai, says the Government should do a proper investigation of the proposed bridge project before its commissioning.

The proposed bridge project – which the Government hopes will secure World Bank funding – will connect Upolu with the islands of Manono, Apolima and Savai’i.

Leiataua said in relation to the project, the Government should be realistic and practical from the formulation stage and ensure that proper investigations are done before the projects are approved and commissioned.

"It is a good initiative by the Government, but as with any project, there are negatives and positives,” he added.

A project of such a magnitude – during the design phase – should also be independently reviewed according to the engineer, as there have been a number of projects that lacked independent reviews.

"It's always good to have another pair of eyes and another independent consultant to look into what you are doing, that's standard practice," he added. 

Leiataua said the biggest challenge facing contractors, when it comes to building bridges in Samoa, are the lack of material which is mostly obtained from overseas. 

"Steel, treated timber and cement are all from overseas. The only thing we have is the sand and rocks and the labor.” 

On the flip side, though, he said any expansion of local infrastructure will always have a ripple effect boost the country’s gross domestic product. 

He referred to increased connectivity in Samoa due to the expansion of the telecommunications sector and as well as growth in the transport sector. 

"The more development we have will be good for future generations,” he added.

And as an engineer, he now has an eye on the proposed bridge project, as it will open up possibilities of collaboration between local consultants and contractors. 

"We do have new young engineers coming up, so it's a good idea to see our country benefit from whatever the Government will prioritize, as the best course of action to meet the demands of the public.”

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