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Senator voices concern over state of shipyard

Shipyard Service Authority board chairman David Robinson says the board is happy to address lawmakers’ concerns and complaints about the government owned Ronald Reagan Marine Railway shipyard and ready to provide all information necessary to clear any misunderstanding.


Robinson was responding to a Samoa News request for comments following statements last week by Sen. Tuiasina S. Esera on the Senate floor where he raised serious concerns over what he called “the very poor condition” of the shipyard.


According to the Tualatai senator, he witnessed these poor conditions and other problems at the shipyard when he visited there recently. He also said that he was not happy nor pleased with the response and explanation provided by the man who oversees this government property.


Tuiasina also said there should be a thorough clean-up at the facility and it should be repaired to a better state of operation. He called on the Senate leadership for a hearing on the status of the shipyard, so that senators can ask questions and gain a better understanding before reviewing the shipyard’s budget for the new fiscal year when the Fono debates the government budget in the near future.


Senate President Pro-Temp Nua Saoluaga acknowledged the concern and request for a hearing, saying that he will look into this matter.


Robinson said he was informed by the shipyard acting general manager Peter Blackman about the senator’s unannounced visit; and that the senator — after his visit — called Blackman, voicing his concerns and complaints about the shipyard.


“I would be happy to sit down and discuss with the honorable senator what we are doing at the shipyard, such as repairs and renovations and upgrading, as well as share our future plans,” Robinson said yesterday.


“There has been a lot done over the last two years and I would be happy to provide those details as well as details of our future plans to all lawmakers.”


One of the major plans of the shipyard, is to put in a second, but smaller, slipway  to replace the old one that has rotted away over the years due to the lack of maintenance and repairs by previous operators of the shipyard, said Robinson.


The board chair suspects that it's this area, where the old slipway is located inside the shipyard compound that could be the problem, because that is where much of the trash is moved to, as the shipyard staff carries out major refurbishment and cleaning of the facility.


One of the major refurbishments has also been done to the two-story building, which Robinson said has not been maintained for years. The shipyard, in addition, brought in a local contractor, who handled the clearing of the metal scrap yard for ASPA, to cut up scrap metal at the shipyard facility for shipment off island.


Robinson says there was an old crane barge that has been anchored around the facility and it was cleared away as part of the work done by the shipyard’s workforce.  He said the “staff is doing a great job, cleaning out 30-years of dirt and scrap metal that has been on this property all these years”.


“Now this place never looked better,” he said. “This facility never looked cleaner in its life until now and this was the goal of the board— to make this facility a top facility in the region.”


Robinson also revealed that the installation of a new chain, which cost $202,000, for the slipway will take place sometime soon as the shipyard currently needs to address boat repairs, with one fishing boat now on the slip and another one thereafter.


Last month one of the Samoa government vessels went on the slipway for repairs. Robinson said the shipyard depends on vessel repairs so it's difficult for them to turn away any revenue making project.


“We are preparing for the future in being able to offer a good quality service at competitive rates and if we get it right we shall be employing more people and contributing more and more dollars to the local economy in the coming years,” Robinson told Samoa News recently.


The new chain installation was initially scheduled for some time between last month and early this month.