Basic utilities, hardship and the tragedy of the 2009 tsunami

They are the bare basics. Water, electricity, roads, housing and health care.

That’s what members of the public are asking from their Government. All over the country – including places where you would least expect it.

You’d be surprised about what many of them are lacking in places as close to Apia in areas like Fugalei, Taufusi and even up the hill at Palisi and Vailima. Water. Roads. Health care.

Ladies and gentlemen, they are not asking for heaven and earth type stuff. They are merely demanding the very basics of life that they are entitled to.

The truth is this. While we have come so far as a country and the Government has much to be proud of in terms of its achievements over the past 37 years, the reality is quite a contrast from what they will have you believe.

Look around you today; we’ve never had this many beggars on the streets of Samoa. Children and adult vendors are in your face everyday regardless of where you are. Elsewhere, hardship and growing poverty among some people in this country should worry us all. The images don’t lie; those pictures are a reflection of the daily struggles and hardships many families face.

There are cases where there are far too many children that parents are struggling to care of them. Some of these children look malnourished and some need clothes. In some cases, newborn babies are being chucked in the trash bin like tissues. Let’s park that there for now.

Let’s get back to the issue of basics. Isn’t it shameful that there are still so many families living in the villages who have no access to quality drinking water?

All you have to do is pick up the Sunday Samoan and read the Village Voice. Pictures don’t lie. The ones, which show mothers and their children with buckets and old gallon drums they use to collect water, are heartbreaking. That is the reality for many families out there. Their predicament is not something they are particularly proud of. And they shouldn’t.

 That is often why when these stories are exposed in print and on social media, people who feel responsible for them – including relatives outside of Samoa, are quick to ask for them to be taken down because it casts a bad light on them. We understand.

The Government should feel that way too. At the end of the day, it is their responsibility to ensure that everyone gets the very basic of utilities and services.

Why? The answer is quite simple. That’s what they exist to do. That’s why they are paid huge sums of money by taxpayers. That’s why they have those flash offices, the latest vehicles and all the perks including traversing the world on business class flights.

Here’s something to think about – and perhaps a reminder today; when the Government fixes your village road, they are not doing you or your village a favour. That is their job. The projects are being paid for from either taxpayers’ monies or donor funding that are provided to ensure those basics are delivered.  The same goes for water, electricity and more.

Which is why we find it astonishing that in 2019, given all the millions in aid and taxpayers monies, we still have many people in Samoa who have little access or none at all to these very basics.

Now isn’t it sad? Isn’t it downright frustrating that while certain Government officials travel from one exotic destination to another – in the name of trying to save the world – there are so many people in Samoa, who still don’t have access to some of these very basics?

Don’t you find it frustrating? Don’t you think some of that money would be better spent helping them instead?

Speaking of help, out there at Aleipata and the south coast of Upolu, there remains a lot that can be done to help the people there. Today in Samoa, we will stop and remember with sadness the events of 2009 when an earthquake triggered a tsunami, which killed more than 140 people in this country.

Everyone will have a story to tell. There will be tears and there will be sorrow. There will be many painful memories. It cannot be any other way. How can it be? That day will remain as one of the darkest in this country’s history.

For a couple of months now, our Reporter Sapeer Mayron and our team of photographers have been working on stories to commemorate this very sad occasion. Since Monday, your newspaper has been publishing some great stories, which have allowed us to reflect on what happened then and what has been done since. Even on the newspaper you are reading today. We encourage you to get a copy of the paper or follow it online.

The question is how have things changed for the survivors of the deadly tragedy since 2009? Again, we’re not talking about anything fancy. We are talking about the very basics: water, electricity, housing, sanitation, healthcare and basic living necessities.

Take a drive out there and head uphill to see many of the families who have had to relocate. Sadly, for many of them, those basic utilities continue to remain a challenge a decade from that tragic day. For many of them, they still don’t have water. Isn’t it sad?  

But then isn’t that typical of what is happening in Samoa today? What is the Government doing? Do they care?

Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless!













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