Mali'oli'o Bridge open for public use
At long last, Savai'i residents will no longer have to fear the wrath of the Mali'oli'o river during periods of heavy rain and flooding.
From what was a humble ford, the new $8.3million bridge at Samalaeulu was officially opened for public use on Tuesday.
The Land Transport Authority confirmed this in a public statement.
Built by Ah Liki Construction Company and funded by the World Bank, Australia and Samoa, the project's initial cost was $7.64 million.
Ah Liki had subcontracted FICO Construction and Apia Lua Construction, supervised by Tinai, Gordon and Associates, for the project.
During a recent interview, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Finance, Leasiosio Oscar Malielegaoi, confirmed that the variations made to the project were necessary to strengthen the building’s structural integrity.
The bridge includes a new reinforced concrete arch bridge 26 metres in length; a new reinforced concrete box bridge, which is 11.4m long; and the construction of a new single carriageway, 1.5 kilometre long chip-seal surfaced road complete with three intersections, drainage, road marking and signage.
It is part of a US$26.35 million (T$69.47 million) grant from the World Bank and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 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.
The Ministry of Finance C.E.O. explained that the original contract was awarded to a Korean company which followed the original design but failed to account for environmental and climate influences on construction.
He stated that the contractor was changed to a Samoan company because overseas companies do not understand the environment.
“…and when they [Ah Liki Construction] started the work there were areas that needed to be reworked. For example, the base [of the bridge] was not erected on a solid structure. And we made sure that that a base was on solid structure,” said Leasiosio.
“We don’t entertain variations but there are times that it is necessary for safety. If we had followed the original design and we meet specifications and the asset is handed over [...] the question that comes to mind is it safe and for how long?"
The Mali’oli’o river is the second largest river on the island of Savai’i and is known for its intense current.
The Mali'oli'o crossing has claimed many lives over the years.