Mali'oli'o Bridge nears completion, opening delayed
Construction work on the multi-million tala Mali'oli'o Bridge in Savai’i is close to wrapping up and could be completed by this week or next, the head of the Land Transport Authority (L.T.A.) says.
Chief Executive Officer Galumalemana Ta'atialeoitiiti Tutuvanu-Schwalger confirmed the bridge’s imminent completion in an interview with the Samoa Observer but would not commit to an official opening date.
The bridge, which addresses one of the most frequent traffic bottlenecks on the big island, was scheduled to open by the end of 2019 but has been mired by delays.
According to Galumalemana, state of emergency orders are compounding the difficulties of construction meaning that no firm completion data can be provided.
"I cannot give you an actual date because there are other things to take into account, our borders are shut down and there are currently no trips between Upolu and Savaii,” Galumalemana said.
However, said that once the response to the virus is concluded, they will open the project to the public.
Despite the state of emergency, construction workers are continuing to work on the project to ensure its completion by next week.
Earlier in January this year, members of the Cabinet Development Committee visited the project in Savai’i.
At that time the C.E.O assured the Prime Minister that the Mali'oli'o Bridge would be opened in March alongside the Vaisigano Bridge in Upolu
The Mali'oli'o Bridge is part of a US$26.35 million grant from the World Bank and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (D.F.A.T.).
The objective of the project is to restore key road sector assets damaged by extreme weather events and to enhance the climate resilience of critical roads and bridges in the country.
The Mali’oli’o river is the second largest on the island of Savai’i and is known for the intensity of its currents. The frequent bursting of its banks have claimed several lives in recent years and been the cause of travel restrictions on the big island.
The opening of the bridge aims to make travel across Savai’i safer and easier during inclement weather.
The initial cost of the project, which was awarded to the Ah Liki Construction Company, was $7.64 million.
But additional works and variations to the project, which have been approved by the World Bank, have raised its cost to a total of $8.3 million.
The cost was confirmed by the Ministry of Finance's Chief Executive Officer, Leasiosiofa’asisina Oscar Malielegaoi, in February.