M.P.'s appeal for flood-stricken residents heeded
The Member of Parliament for Vaimauga Sisifo No. 1 has made a successful appeal for Government assistance for disaster-prone and flood-struck areas of his constituency.
Lenatai Victor Tamapua made an emotive appeal on the floor of Parliament on Wednesday, saying he worries constantly for the people of his constituency every time heavy rain strikes.
“We all noticed [...] the heavy rain yesterday,” he said.
“At Lelata, the water overflows and it reaches Fa’atoia. It then makes its way to other areas, specifically to the Apia Park, Vaiala and Vaipuna.
“I humbly remind you again, as I had said yesterday: please provide quick assistance because every time it rains, we continue to worry about the families who live along this area; they are in need of help.”
Lenatai's speech was then cut off by a call from the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi who issued a directive that urgent action be taken to address the matter.
Tuilaepa stood up to say that the M.P.’s appeal resounded with an earlier speech made by the M.P. for Faleata East, Salausa Dr. John Ah Ching, who also represents the side of town vulnerable to disasters.
The Prime Minister called upon the heads of Government Ministries with direct responsibility for improving such areas, calling upon them to establish needed development projects now.
The Prime Minister said it was imperative to ensure that the lives and properties of the nation are protected from natural disaster.
“The matter raised is a crucial one,” he said.
“And also in this building are the head of Ministries and authorities who are directly involved with this matter. It is an assistance needed now, and it should be done now.
“But it is important for these heads of Ministries to listen to these issues raised by the Members of Parliament because time does not wait for you.
“Quick action is needed and that is why I had stood up to tell you that this is a priority [...] this is something that needs to be done.”
Tuilaepa also revealed a massive project on the horizon dedicated to improving the country’s drainage system worth $260 million (USD$100 million) and advised local contractors to be prepared for tender advertisements.
“Maybe it will take about three years to fully complete, as it will be a big development,” Tuilaepa said.
“Major project discussions started four years ago including [for] the big Vaisigano bridge, the Maluafou bridge as well as the refurbishing of the Lelata bridges.
“This is no small matter raised by the M.P. and I thank him for being vigilant in reminding us again and again.
“These are the leaders of Samoa who are voicing the needs of the people as the heads of Ministries listen; they are the right hand of Government, the leaders listen to their advice.”
Tuilaepa said the reason statements from the opposition saying the Government is run by one man is incorrect and such a perspective will not inform its approach to development projects.
“They say the head of Ministries are no longer useful because the head of Government rules over them, but this is a weak belief,” Tuilaepa said.
“Put away the game of politics; put it away.
“This is not the time for unfounded speeches to be made when we continuously see the Government’s efforts to seek advice and opinions to make our work easier.
“Not only do we use our Samoans with the right knowledge but also the proper [use] of our donors' [money that is] entrusted to us. They weren’t given to us to disperse, but they were brought to build these developments which the people can see and [which can] be used to save their lives and properties.”
The Vaisigano Bridge was commissioned in August last year; the Loto Samasoni Bridge was opened late 2019.
The Government is currently undergoing the reconstruction of the Lelata Bridge made possible by a portion of the Green Climate Fund (G.C.F.) to contribute to the cost of the Vaisigano Catchment Project.
(The broader catchment project is a six-year initiative designed to reduce the potential risks to infrastructure in Apia caused by potential flooding of the Vaisigano River).
In 2019, the manager of the Land Transport Authority’s Project Management Division, Maverick Wetzell, said the overall goal of the project was to increase the protection of road users and residents in the area in times of extreme flooding.