Work underway to stabilize the foundation for new fono building

blue@samoanews.com

While there is still no official word on when the new Fono building will break ground, a team from Paramount Builders — the local construction company that was awarded the contract to demolish the old Fono building late last year — was seen at the site yesterday, causing many to speculate that the project was moving forward.

An official from the company told Samoa News yesterday that Paramount is only at the Fagatogo site to help the engineers figure out how to stabilize the ground, to ensure that it is durable enough to carry the weight of a big structure, like the one being proposed.

Suggestions were initially made to use micro piles, which are a deep foundation element constructed using high-strength, small diameter steel casing and/or threaded bar.

But Paramount officials say micro piling the area in question will come with a price tag of around $2 million. "Very expensive," they said.

In an effort to find alternative, more cost-effective solutions, Paramount wants to take the same approach, but at a lower cost to the government.

The company says stabilizing the foundation is the most crucial step before construction begins and the plan is to carry out a "mass excavation" of the site. This means the entire area will be excavated down to a trench of 10-feet in depth, which will be filled with 3/4 gravel.

While some may argue that the cheaper alternative may mean less quality, the company points to the multi-million-dollar ASPA power plant in Satala, which was built using the same method.

"This approach is much cheaper than micro piling and it's just as effective," said a Paramount spokesperson.

He added that their company is assisting the Fono building's geotechnical engineer, who has already indicated that the existing soil level, down to three feet, consists of "unsuitable material" that needs to be removed; hence, the mass excavation that is ongoing.

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