Vaisigano Bridge delayed by border closures

The Vaisigano Bridge has been struck by delays due to international border closures, the Ministry of Finance Chief Executive Officer, Leasiosiofa'asisina Oscar Malielegaoi, said.

The $43 million Vaisigano Bridge was scheduled to be open in July.

"It was supposed to open [soon] but it has been extended," the Finance chief said on Thursday.

"The project requires specialised engineers and while others are being blocked overseas, others that were here were repatriated back to their home countries. Many of the [project's] engineers were repatriated."

The new and improved bridge is being constructed by a Japanese company, Konoike Construction Company Ltd. It is 1.5 metres higher and 20 metres downstream from the previous model. 

Despite the delays, the bridge will be opened soon, according to Leasiosio.

He said the only major part left for its construction is the shifting of roads’ traffic flows from the old bridge to the new.

Emails to the Land and Transport Authority (L.T.A.) Chief Executive Officer, Galumalemana Ta'atialeoitiiti Tutuvanu-Schwalger, were not responded to.

A US$80,000 signboard was installed late last year on the site, funded by Japan while a roundabout between the bridge and Matautu is now nearing completion.

Leasiosio said the Vaisigano Bridge is amongst the development projects intended for the Government to have completed by now but for the pandemic. 

Other projects with extended timelines include the Arts and Cultural Centre construction works at Malifa and the Friendship Park behind the government building.

"All these works are delayed due to the engineers from overseas who were meant to come in. It's either they got blocked and cannot come or they were here but got repatriated before lockdown," Leasiosio said.

The Finance C.E.O. said the most important thing is that Samoa's donor partners have given the "green light" to extend project timelines.

Leasiosio said the development works allows for the number of jobs maintained and economic activities to continue.

"Partners have already issued their pipelines as they have multi-year plans. For example, they have the cross-island road starting from Tanugamanono. That plan was approved in about 2017. But up to now, studies are continuing," he said.

"Our negotiations with partners include pleading for the continuation of whatever project they have committed to, and not to take COVID-19 as a chance for them to cancel or pushback timelines.

"Once they do this, it takes away some of the businesses included who are stimulating the economy."

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