APIA, SAMOA – 13 AUGUST 2020: It has been two years when traffic to and from the eastern side of Apia town was disrupted as a wider and higher Vaisigano Bridge was under construction. Traffic was opened to use bridge on Tuesday this week for a direct and easier access to town.
The Chief Executive Officer for the Lands Transport Authority, Galumalemana Tutuvanu Schwalger said an official ceremony for the opening of the bridge is scheduled at the end of this month, however, LTA has given priority to the travelling public and to avoid queues and traffic congestion.
She acknowledged the country’s support and patience during the construction time.
For two years, the public had to divert around the area as the Konoike Construction Co. Ltd worked on constructing the $43 million tala climate resilient bridge to replace the old one.
The bridge is funded by Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The agreement included the project cost at JPY 1.806, approximately SAT$43 million with JICA providing the design, construction and supervision services for the work.
Work started in May 2018 on the design provided by the Japanese company, Central Consultants & CTI Engineering Inc.
The Konike company utilised locally supplied materials and sub-contracted local companies such as Blue Bird, Cabella Co. Ltd and Ott Constructors to assist with the construction.
The new bridge is situated 22m downstream of the existing bridge and raised by 1.5m.
The bridge can take the weight of heavy trucks but Galumalemana said only light vehicles are allowed and heavy vehicle to continue using the Vaiala route.
Whilst Konoike utilised local workers and materials, the work did not go without challenges.
The biggest challenge, according to Galumalemana is the weather and the State of Emergency that delayed the work.
When the SOE lockdown started, it not only affected transportation for some of the workers who take public transport to work, but also delayed the arrivals of some of the materials ordered from overseas for the work.
Removing the old bridge
Galumalemana confirmed that some some people wanted to retain the old bridge as a part of history or for pedestrians access.
But while it seems like a good idea, the old bridge however will impact negatively on the new bridge.
“The new bridge has quite an extension and if we keep the old bridge, it will become an obstruction to the river flow out to the sea especially if the sand starts to build up under the bridge,” said Galumalemana.
The cost for removing the old bridge is included in the SAT$43 million and Konoike Construction is contracted for the work.