Drainage upgrades ongoing as flood costs counted

Ongoing upgrades to drainage in the centre of town helped minimise the yet-to-be-finalised cost of Friday’s flooding, the Land, Transport Authority (L.T.A.) says. 

The Authority’s Chief Executive Officer, Galumalemana Titi Tutuvanu-Schwalger, said that an upgrade to Apia centre’s drainage systems was currently being undertaken by Ott Constructors. 

“As you all know the town area is located on low grounds hence it is easily flooded during heavy rains; but the drainage helps reduce the water from the road,” the C.E.O. said. 

The upgrade was first awarded to the company in January, as part of a $2.3 million project to improve drainage around footpaths and the flood-prone Taufusi area. The money was allocated as part of the Government’s 2019-2020 supplementary budget.

The L.T.A. says the new infrastructure will target areas with a history of damaging flood to businesses and homes. 

In a report attached to the budget, the Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Committee questioned the Authority about whether access roads to rural areas also needed upgrades. 

The L.T.A. said budgetary constraints present ongoing challenges to ongoing requests from villages and Members of Parliament for upgrades to access roads.

Drainage problems in Taufusi and some parts of Fugalei has forced some businesses to raise their buildings’ ground floors to avoid flood damage.

In an interview with the Samoa Observer on Saturday, Galumalemana said estimates of the cost to roads around the country from flood damage was still being tabulated. 

“[There] will be a preliminary post disaster assessment that will be tabled [before Cabinet] and probably after that meeting there should be some estimates available,” she said.  

“At this point of time, we are still carrying out the works and my team are on the sites relaying information.” 

Galumalemana said the most affected and damaged areas are in the centre of town, compared to other parts of the country. 

“I guess it's mainly because it is the most populated area, but from the media coverage as well photos taken by the Ministries and response agencies there [was damage] all around Samoa,” said Galumalemana. 

“But the major damages were in Apia.”

She declined to give an estimate on the cost of the recovery efforts to date. 

“However I can comment that if we hadn’t done any of the upgrade on the drainages or any of the upgrade of infrastructure before yesterday the costs of the level of damages would be far worse,” said Galumalemana. 

According to the C.E.O. contractors have not completed the drainage works at Savalalo street from the St Mary’s school hall up to the Lucky Foodtown.

The Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’I Niko Lee Hang, at the time, said the L.T.A. is carefully looking into specifications for works at Taufusi.

The Member of Parliament for Gagaemauga No. 3, La'auli Leautea Schmidt, called on the Government to raise the specifications for road works to make them more durable. 

He proposed using asphalt tar on roads from Malifa to Saiga so that they are more resilient albeit costly. 

Papali’i noted the concerns saying the L.T.A. is making a proposal to the World Bank so that the asphalt can also be used for road works from Vaitele to Faleolo.

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