Design of longline dock project on hold

Additional funding needed, says Lolo Admin
fili@samoanews.com

Design of the longline dock project is on hold pending additional funding, while the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council has directed its staff to inquire with Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga about the status of the longline dock and whether it’s a priority for the Lolo Administration; and if not, then the Council’s Advisory group recommends reprogramming the money.

The status of the longline dock surfaced at last week’s three-day 169th Meeting of the Council in Honolulu with Council executive director Kitty Simonds asking Va’amua Henry Sesepasara, who is director of the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources, about the dock project, to which the Council has contributed $190,000.

“Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to talk with Port Administration and I will make that a priority when I get back home to see where we stand,” was the response from Va’amua, one of the three American Samoa members on the Council, and who represents the territorial government.

Responding to Samoa News questions about the longline dock, Port Administration engineer Sailimalo Natalia Palamo said design of the project is currently on hold pending additional funding.

Palamo explained that during the preliminary design stage of the project, the designers, BECA, identified that geotechnical investigations and a benthic survey of the proposed location would need to be carried out before the final design could be completed.

“This has been quoted as an additional cost of $183,500,” Palamo said and noted that Port Administration received $194,900 from the Council to complete the design of the new Malaloa Wharf — that includes the longline dock.

“As the design has not been completed, we do not have a firm estimate of the construction cost,” Palamo pointed out. “However a high level estimate of the construction works would be in the vicinity of $2 million to $3 million.

At the Council meeting, one of the American Samoa Community Activity reports presented last Thursday was on the longline dock. It noted that the Council had previously provided funds to ASG through Port Administration for the design and feasibility study, for longline dock extension at the Malaloa Marina.

The goal is to alleviate dock space issues by providing a dedicated dock for the longline vessels in American Samoa that are currently experiencing a lot of safety issues due to the way they are shuffled around the harbor, whenever there is a cruise liner, fuel ship or container ship that comes into port, according to the presentation.

Port Administration has since stated that funds are required for a geo-tech study in the area, and therefore more funding is needed to complete the design for the longline dock.

But during last month’s Advisory Panel on American Samoa for the Council, the panel made the suggestion for the local government to look at past geo-tech studies, that may have been done when Malaloa dock was constructed, to possibly use for the longline extension, the presentation stated.

Additionally, Port Administration is looking to get the actual construction phase of the project — estimated to be between $2- $3 million — listed under the Capital Improvement Project plan list for 2017 “hopefully” and this comes after Lolo’s request to the cabinet for projects to add to the CIP list for 2017.

Prior to the close of the Council’s meeting last Thursday afternoon, several recommendations were approved including one from the Council’s joint Advisory Group on American Samoa, that directs Council staff to draft a letter to the governor, inquiring if the longline dock project remains a priority for ASG.

The advisory group “identify its completion as a priority,” according to the recommendation. “If this project is no longer a priority for ASG and it’s unable to contribute its portion of the dock evaluation project by July 1, 2017, the joint Advisory Group recommends the Council evaluate options to reprogram the funds provided to Port Administration.”

The advisory group also recommends expanding the dock project to include components that may be utilized by other fisheries, enhancing economic benefits, thus making it more attractive to the territorial government.

As the governor’s representative on the Council, Va’amua voted “no” on the recommendation and he was the only opposition member.

Another American Samoa member on the Council, Christinna Lutu-Sanchez said it’s very critical that a longline dock is built and thanked the Council for their support. (See cannery and fishery report in Tuesday, Mar. 28 issue.)

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