The climate change resilient brand new Vaisigano Bridge, took seven years in the making. And under no circumstances are the bridge and all other Government initiated infrastructural projects (such as new roads, schools, water, etc) were designed to be used as a campaign strategy by Government, as a lead up to the 2021 General Elections.
Labeling the claims as a “cosmetic smokescreen” by critics to belittle Government, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi reiterated that since the HRPP came into office some 40 years, their party is more than a political party but a Party of statesmen and stateswomen.
“A politician only worries about his or her re-election,” he explained.
“The HRPP members including Cabinet and myself are all statesmen and stateswomen because our mission is to develop projects that will benefit future generations to come regardless if there is a General Election tomorrow.”
To ease traffic congestion during the construction phase, the new Vaisigano Bridge, replacing the old bridge built in 1953 was opened for public transport Tuesday.
This was announced by the Land Transport Authority CEO, Galumalemana Titi Tutuvanu-Schwalger, who said the official opening ceremony for the project is scheduled for the end of this month although the bridge was opened to the public.
Cyclone Evan in 2012 caused serious damage to the old bridge, which made the replacement of the current bridge a priority, and it led to the Government of Japan offering a grant of $43 million (US$16.4 million) to fund the new bridge.
The agreement between the Governments of Samoa and Japan was finally signed in 2017 and construction works started in 2018.
Galumalemana in a Press Conference last Saturday said the bridge was opened this week to ease traffic congestion and she acknowledged the support from the public during construction works.
She said the new bridge is currently being built 20 meters away from the old bridge. The design is two lanes complimented by footpaths, streetlights and improvements to the roundabout at Matautu.
“Floodwaters, cyclones and also debris and fallen logs bombarded the old bridge over the years and had worn it down.”
In groundbreaking the construction of the Project back in April 2018, the Prime Minister declared that Vaisigano Bridge is part of the road network in Upolu, connecting Apia and the industrial area to the west to Samoa’s only commercial port at Matautu.
Tuilaepa said while the Vaisigano Bridge has withstood the test of time, corrosion as well as the impacts of natural disasters has weakened its structure, despite maintenance and rehabilitation works.
The Prime Minister noted that the renewal of the bridge was a recommendation by the post technical assessment from Cyclone Evan in 2012.
The project is also in line with the Samoa National Tropical Cyclone Plan, to reduce the impact of tropical cyclones.
Part of the plan is to remodel key infrastructure landmarks in the Apia town area which include the Vaisigano Bridge, and to detail mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery arrangements for tropical cyclones that affect Samoa