BLAST project suffered setback, now on track says ASTCA CEO
“The Blast project suffered a considerable set-back when it stalled for over 14 months, due to administrative oversight, budgetary changes and operational inconsistencies, thus reviving the project became my number one priority,” said ASTCA CEO Moefauo Bill Emmsley in a report to lawmakers.
The ASTCA CEO said he managed to successfully re-negotiate its resurrection, incorporating major structural changes and personnel realignment, as “one of my many feats achieved as CEO, which saved ASTCA and ASG millions of dollars — not to mention, averting great embarrassment,” he wrote in the report, which had been sought by the House Government Operation Committee Chairman Faimealelei Anthony Allen prior to the hearing slated for yesterday.
However, the hearing has been postponed to next week Friday, given that one of the witnesses was unable to attend.
An off island company, Michels Corporation is laying the cable line. According to the report, the ASTCA CEO said the BLAST project, which officially kicked off in 2010, is scheduled to be completed by September 2015 with no chance for extension.
“The $91million project ($81million grant funds and $10million loan) from the Rural Utilities Services is the largest and most complex grant ASTCA has ever received and undertaken — a project which involves implementing FTTH (Fiber-to-the-home) and the deployment of the undersea fiber cable to Manu’a and Aunu’u Islands. The advent of this project is undoubtedly going to revolutionize the technological landscape of the Territory, with speeds and capacities unimaginable.”
SCHEDULE OF WORK AND PROGRESS
According to the report to House members, there is ongoing boring, trenching, underground aerial drops, splicing in the areas of Satala, Fagatogo, Tafuna, Ili’ili, Taputimu/Leone, Olotele, Lauli’i Breakers point, Fagaitua and Alofau and these are slated to be done by October 2014. In September, the BLAST project will continue on to the Aunu’u and Manu’a Islands.
PLANS FOR MANU’A
According to the ASTCA CEO in his report, the plans for the BLAST project for Manu’a are identical to the one on-going on Tutuila island, along with its design and detailed plans.
Another issue in the report which House members sought for explanation was how many construction companies or utility companies are expected to be hired for this project — aside from Michels Corporation.
The CEO explained that to the greatest extent possible local companies as well as individuals will be engaged as an incidental effect of the BLAST project.
Apart from Michels and P-Pacific, others included, but not limited to the following companies, are Paramount, Samoa Maritime, McConnell Dowell, Fletcher, Larry French, ASPA and Port Administration.
He pointed out that the introduction of the BLAST project has contributed considerably to the local economy and is expected to provide an unprecedented infusion of more than $10 million and other in-kind benefits. He offered no details.