Apolima Island residents appeal for new wharf

Apolima Island residents have appealed to the Government to build a new wharf as it has been a challenge travelling using cement remnants of the old wharf, which can become dangerous to use during bad weather.

Mayor of the island, Leala Afe Solo, told the Samoa Observer that the island’s cement wharf was built by the Government in 2008 and gradually broke under the weight of the ocean currents and bad weather in early 2014.

He said there are only two options at this stage: build a new wharf or remove what is left of the old cement wharf.

“We’ve been trying to remove the cement and the other parts of the wharf but they’re too strong and require machines and stuff like that to remove them,” he said.

“Ever since the wharf began to become like this, we’ve been boarding the boat far from the shore which means families have to swim to the boat and back.”

Also the boats can only navigate the passage when the tide is high, according to the island’s mayor. 

And the risks of accidents are higher during bad weather, he said as boats and their passengers can be thrown against the cement remnants of the old wharf.

“Now imagine if there’s an emergency situation which needs the boat to travel to the mainland during bad weather, it takes a lot of effort to travel during that time which has happened a lot of time,” Leala added.

“And if the boat is washed off by the waves towards the broken wharf, it’s really unsafe for the passengers as well as the boat itself as it will either sink or break apart.”

Asked how the village has dealt with the issue the last six years, the mayor said the residents always took the risk.

Leala said the matter was a priority for his predecessor, the late Tautaiolevao Tautala Asovale, to no avail until his passing.

“I feel like our island has been forgotten by the Government for some reason, I’m not sure but we just urge them to consider these small things for the safety of our residents, especially our children,” he said.

“We have the coronavirus currently trending and we need to get these things off our list of things to worry about and only worry about the coronavirus. It’s been too long since we’ve been struggling with this.”

Apolima Island is 44 kilometers west of Apia and is somewhat sandwiched between the big islands of Upolu and Savai’i. There are about 15 families on the island, who have over the years learnt to live within their means, maintained their traditional way of living and protected themselves from outside influence. Only about a quarter of the island is inhabited by families with the rest covered by tropical forest and a rocky terrain.

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