Heavy rain floods fords in Savai'i, halts traffic

The bad weather on Monday wreaked havoc on motorists in Savai’i with the flooding of fords making it difficult for vehicles to cross and also affecting students sitting their exams.

The fords at Sapapali'i, Lano, Sasina, Aopo and the Mali'oli'o were all flooded on Monday, causing traffic disruption on the big island. 

For motorists who reside near the Mali'oli'o River, thanks to the $8.3million bridge at Samalaeulu that was built by Ah Liki Construction Company and funded by the World Bank, they did not have to worry about the risk of crossing.

But for people who tried to cross the Lano and Sapapali'i fords, they had trouble getting through to the other side. 

Members of the public trying to cross the Sasina ford also had the same experience.

Concerned father and motorist from Sasina, Seve Avaula, told the Samoa Observer that there were a few students and workers who were stranded on the other side of the river in the early hours of Monday morning. 

"The river started flooding at around 9:00pm on Sunday night," said Seve. "And it only got worse in the morning and I know because I stay near the river.

"This has been a common problem for those residing in Letui, Aopo, and the other part of Sasina. Every time the river bursts, they are stranded on the other side and could not get through."

Seve appealed to the Government to "walk the talk" and build a secure bridge for Sasina in order to prevent the problem in the future. 

"They (Government) promised that they would start the construction works for Sasina once they complete the Samalaeulu bridge. But we are still waiting for them to deliver that promise."

Alofi-o-Taoa College Principal, Fepulea'i Lene Selulo, confirmed six students who are currently sitting the Samoa School Certificate (S.S.C.) and Samoa Secondary Leaving Certificate (S.S.L.C.) exams were late on Monday morning due to the bad weather.

"But they were only fifteen minutes late," Fepulea'i told the Samoa Observer. 

"We were aware of the problem in the morning before the exams, and we contacted the Ministry (of Education sports and culture) for another option for our students if they could not get to school on time.

"However, we came up with the plan that we would still go start the exams for those students who were already at school on time, as scheduled, but we would wait for those who were stranded on the other side to come. 

"The plan was to delay the starting time for the exams until all the students arrive because it is not the students' fault in the first place."

Fortunately, Fepulea'i said the students were only fifteen minutes late for the exams. 

"We were told that police were at the river to make sure that it was safe for vehicles to cross to the other side, and under their supervision, when they saw that it was safe for big vehicles to cross, the first truck brought all the six students to school. 

"So we are grateful that it did not cost them their exams today."

The school has also notified the parents of students from Letui, Aopo and Sasina to make temporary arrangements for the children to stay with families near the school, so they won't have to miss their remaining exams. 

"We have put up a notice for the parents of those students to make arrangements and I have also offered to host some of the students, so they don't have to go through the trouble of being late to the exams or miss the exams."

Earlier this year when the Government officially opened the Mali'oli'o Bridge, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi declared that the Government would continue to work on other major road infrastructure on the big island. 

"The Government of Samoa with the assistance of its development partners will continue to collaborate in the upgrade or construction of other major road infrastructure projects such as the Lano and Sapapali’i Ford here in Savaii," Tuilaepa said, during the opening of Mali'oli'o Bridge. 

He added that the opening of the Mali'oli'o Bridge satisfies the Strategy for Development of Samoa, Key Outcome No. 10 to provide a sustainable, safe, secure, and environmentally responsible transport network that supports Samoa's economic and social development.

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