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Lolo reassures Bishop Quinn that roads will be fixed

McConnell Dowell has received more than $200,000 towards payment on an outstanding debt of the American Samoa Government, and the company has promised to move on patching areas of the roads that are in terrible condition, starting with the most heavily traveled areas. 

This is according to a Jan. 16 letter from Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga to Bishop J. Quinn Weitzel, who wrote to the governor early last week regarding the ongoing problems with the badly flooded roads in the Fagaima and Ottoville area.

“I realize that our whole Territory has road problems, but we experience severe problems with the roads in the area of our Fatuoaiga Cathedral and Hope House,” wrote Bishop Quinn. “In front of the Mormon Church, we have what we call the ‘Mormon Lake.’Over in front of our brothers and sisters Methodist Church, the road is almost impossible totravel on.”

“I would recommend that at the beginning of your Administration you do everything to improve our road system. Our people deserve better roads for transportation,” said the leader of the Catholic Church in American Samoa.

He also said that Tualauta Rep. Larry Sanitoa has been working to find improvement for the road system but has had a very difficult time.

Sanitoa has been a thorn in the side of the past administration — constantly writing, e-mailing and calling DPW regarding the roads in Fagaima and Ottoville area. Bishop Quinn also wrote to then Gov. Togiola Tulafono raising his concerns, but without any positive response, with Togiola noting a lack of funds.

In his reply letter to Bishop Quinn, Lolo explained that he met the morning of Jan. 16 with DPW director-appointee Faleosina Voight and the McConnell Dowell representative to discuss the governor’s directive to begin the process of repairing roads in the territory.

Lolo says he was informed that McConnell Dowell “refused to do any more road repairs” for ASG because of unpaid past bills. To remove this obstacle, Lolo had already instructed the Treasury Department to find money to pay off these debts to the company so that, “I can fulfill my promise to the people [during the campaign] that I will repair our deteriorated public thoroughfare,” the letter states.

Lolo says a check of $260,000 was presented to the McConnell Dowell representative “to demonstrate my commitment that the government will stand good on its past debt” and he was promised by the company’s representative that they will begin repair work immediately, focusing on the sections of high volume traffic.

He said the only setback would be the foul weather. (Samoa News notes that last Saturday, the weather was good, and McConnell Dowell crews were on the road doing patchwork in Fagatogo, Fagaalu and Tafuna).

Lolo says he has also directed Voight to provide a report to the governor’s office on current plans to mitigate this long-standing problem that has been raised by Bishop Quinn regarding the Ottoville and Fagaima areas.

“Rest assured that a permanent solution will be executed as soon as possible to remedy this nemesis once and for all,” he wrote and noted that he has received copies of communication between Sanitoa and Voight about temporary work to fix roads in Fagaima and Ottoville.

Lolo said his administration made the commitment to the people of American Samoa and “I will always place their interest first before our own.” Additionally, any “actions that we implement that will benefit and improve the quality of life of our people will be pleasing to God.”