Fono in Review — ASPA, DOE, DPW
ASPA officials told lawmakers during a House hearing last Tuesday that their main task, by law, is to provide electricity and water services. Therefore, they are looking at moving away from being a fuel supplier.
ASPA CEO Utu Abe Malae told lawmakers, “The response is simple. We are looking at moving away from distributing fuel, because ASPA should maintain their focus on providing services of electricity and water.”
Utu was accompanied at the hearing by Power Generation Manager Ted Leiato, Transmission and Distribution Manager Sofeni Lualemaga, and CFO Susana Fai’ivae.
The ASPA CEO said they are still negotiating with the fuel company for a smooth resolution, adding that the contract with the fuel company ends November 2013. Lawmakers were told that revenues from supplying fuel has benefitted ASPA as the funds have allowed ASPA to pay bills and make purchases needed to enhance their services.
Vice Speaker I’aulualo Talia wondered why ASPA would want to stop supplying fuel when they are benefitting from the revenues. Utu explained that if everyone paid their ASPA bills, including ASG - which owes ASPA more than $10 million - there wouldn’t be a need to seek other revenue sources.
The Vice Speaker noted that he did not agree with ASPA being a fuel supplier, because ASPA was supposed to return to the Fono if there were profits from the fuel so the Fono can budget the money and the profits would help reduce electricity rates for the public. Yet, he said, that has not happened.
Utu responded that when local residents, businesses, and ASG fail to pay their utilities, ASPA has no choice but to increase utility fees to meet other obligations.
MORE ASPA ISSUES
Rep. Vaetasi Tuumolimoli Moliga, wants to know the status of the sewer line in Atu’u and Aua, and according to him, families are being billed for sewage but they have yet to receive these services.
ASPA CEO Utu Abe Malae explained that the one hurdle in place is awarding the contract for the job and sadly, they are still in Phase I for this project. ASPA CFO Susana Fai'ivae assured the faipule that families who do not have sewer lines are not being charged.
Fagatogo faipule Rep. Maugaoalii Sipa Anoa’i said it has been six years and a sewer line is yet to be installed in Fagatogo, yet surveys were conducted and they were told that ASPA would return to carry out the project.
Rep. Puleleiite Tufele Jr referred to debit meters that are obtained after hours. He said when a payment of $20 is made, a $5 service fee applies but there is nothing on the receipt indicating any service fees. Utu said they are looking at reducing this fee to about $2 or $3 and this is something he will bring up during the next ASPA board meeting.
Rep. Lemapu Talo says the $25 fee that is paid to reconnect water and electricity upon disconnection is ridiculous, adding that there should be a courtesy call informing the customer that their services will be disconnected. He said having to pay $25 when a customer pays even five minutes after being disconnected is absurd.
DOE MAINTENANCE AND JANITORIAL STAFF
Rep. Puletuimalo Koko wants DOE director Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin Finau to look into the standards of the maintenance and janitorial crews working at different schools across the territory. He said these are positions that are often overlooked and looked down on, but their roles in keeping the facilities clean and safe for the territory's school kids are just as important as teaching in the classroom.
The Fofo faipule said the heads of these divisions need to be questioned and changes need to be made.
Rep. Florence Vaili Saulo echoed the same sentiment, saying there are major problems with sanitation on the campuses of schools in Tualauta County, especially Tafuna High School where the bathrooms are unsanitary and fights often break out.
TUALAUTA FAIPULE ADDRESSES DRAINAGE PROBLEMS
Rep. Larry Sanitoa is asking Public Works Director Faleosina Voigt and DPW official Falavai Taase to revisit their maintenance plan, requesting that they "double up" efforts in addressing the drainage problems in areas including Cost-U-Less, "the Mormon Lake", Hope House at Fatuoaiga, Fagaima Road, and the Samoa Baptist School Road.
Sanitoa suggests that the drains be cleaned up at least 2-3 times weekly, "especially in front of the Mormon Church in Ottoville." The Tualauta faipule wrote, "We all know how terrible the weather has been lately, but given the deplorable conditions of our roads, constant cleaning and drainage of these sites will, no doubt, help a lot."
Sanitoa expressed gratitude for the maintenance being performed throughout Tualauta, especially the Fagaima/Ottoville area and the Iliili/Pavaiai loop. "Our residents are very appreciative of your efforts."
Sanitoa's request has been forwarded to Governor Lolo Moliga, Bishop John Quinn Weitzel, and the Governor's Executive Assistant Iulogologo J. Pereira.
FAGATOGO FAIPULE WANTS SCHEDULE CHANGE FOR SCHOOL BUSES
Rep. Maugaoalii Leapai Tusipa Anoai has written to DOE director Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin Finau requesting that the pick up time for Fagatogo students attending Coleman Elementary School in Pago Pago be moved to 7 a.m. so "students can arrive at a reasonable time when employees have made it to school." He said the schedule change will also allow students time to have breakfast before school activities begin.
According to Maugaoalii, Fagatogo students are being picked up at 6a.m. and 6:30a.m. daily, meaning parents and their children wake up well before sunrise to prepare for school and make the pickup times. "Our concerns are two-fold," he wrote, explaining that by the time students arrive at school, there are no faculty or staff members there to receive them, and for almost an hour, they are left unsupervised. "The same happens with the children who are dropped off thirty minutes later," he added. Maugaoalii said the current bus schedule means students have not had breakfast and will not have eaten for over an hour after they arrive at school. "As trivial as this may sound, we all strive to make sure that our children are provided and cared for, including not going hungry while under our care," he wrote.
He concluded, "I am sure you can appreciate the importance of the safety of our children. We think it also proper to mention the liability assumed by the government should any of the students suffer injury or encounter situations with unscrupulous individuals who may prey on them."