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Plans to purchase vessels for Manu’a move forward

fili@samoanews.com

The government is moving to purchase two new vessels for the Manu’a island group at a price tag of around $6 million and the goal is to improve ocean transportation for residents. One boat is for sailing between the islands of Manu’a and the other between Tutuila and the island group along with the MV Sili.
 
INTER-ISLAND BOAT
 
Port Administration Department director Dr. Claire Poumele said the government intends to purchase by the end of 2014 two “new” vessels for Manu’a. The first one is a “catamaran type of boat”, which will cost less than $1 million, and will be funded by a U.S. Interior Department grant.
 
This boat will be used to transport passengers and cargo between the islands of Manu'a. “The people are currently subjected to paying $300 to travel from Tau or Faleasao [on Ta’u island] to Ofu on the alias,” Poumele told Samoa News.
 
Procurement Office issued on Dec. 4 the request for proposal (RFP) for the ‘Design and Construction of a new catamaran passenger vessel to serve between the Manu’a Islands” and the closing date for proposals is 2p.m. on Jan. 3, 2014, according to the RPF notice.
 
According to the RFP, the 39-feet vessel will be based in either Ofu or Ta’u island and will be under the jurisdiction of Port Administration. Additionally, the vessel shall be a “quality vessel with quality features and ease of use for the conditions anticipated”.
 
Furthermore, the vessel should accommodate 18 indoor passenger seats and 15 outdoor passenger seats; have a sun/boat deck; a walk-thru cabin, 38 adult life jackets and 6 youth life-jackets, according to some of the requirements.
 
Several provisions are included in the RFP, such as four Port Administration representatives shall travel three times to inspect the vessel during its construction and completion and includes site meetings at the builder’s site.
 
Builder shall include this cost (travel/per diem) in their bid. Builder shall propose an inspection schedule during the ship built on milestone dates that seem fit.
 
It’s also made clear in the RFP that the vessel must comply and pass U.S. Coast Guard certification and inspection.
 
TUTUILA- MANU’A VESSEL
 
The passenger/cargo vessel to serve between Tutuila and the island group will probably cost approximately $5 million and is to be funded by the U.S. Transportation Administration (USDOT) through the local Department of Public Works, which helped secured the funding source under one of the USDOT’s programs, said Poumele.
 
Asked as to what will happen to the MV Sili, Poumele said it will still operate as well, adding that the MV Sili has about five to seven more years of life left, and it has lasted this long due to the fact that it’s been well-cared for by Port Administration.
 
The new boat, by design and construction, will “have better accommodation for passengers” compared to the MV Sili, in which sea water comes onto the deck, Poumele said, adding that Gov. Lolo Moliga is committed to making sure that Manu’a is developed and this is part of that economic development push to ensure there are sufficient, safe vessels.
 
Details of this project are not yet available, but the RFP is expected to be issued soon by Procurement Office.
 
BACKGROUND
 
In the last months of his administration, former Gov. Togiola Tulafono moved to purchase a boat to travel between the Manu’a islands funded by USDOT’s Federal Transit Administration, through a grant secured by local Public Works, but then governor-elect Lolo appealed to the outgoing administration to postpone such a move until his new administration took office.
 
Lolo said at the time that he would prefer a newly built boat instead of another used one, but Togiola dispatched to the U.S. mainland a team to identify a boat for purchase. In the end the Lolo administration took office and the purchase was placed on hold.
 
Lolo told Togiola that ASG has “invested so much money” on vessels, including an airplane, and still it has not even come close to properly accommodating the island group’s transportation needs. Additionally, the MV Sili has been “riddled” with repair problems costing the government more than the original cost of the vessel, while the vessel Fo’isua only operated for a short time before it was decommissioned.
 
A government official told Samoa News last week that this newly “designed and built” boat to operate between Tutuila and Manu’a will save the government money in the long run, as a lot of money is spent on maintenance for the MV Sili.



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