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Stolen meter box temporarily handicaps DYWA training program

The search is on for the culprit or culprits who ripped out the electric meter box at the old Election Office Building in Utulei which is being used by the Department of Youth and Women's Affairs (DYWA) to conduct their cooking training program.


DYWA Deputy Director Tapumanaia Galu Satele Jr. said that the meter was removed over the weekend.


He reported that when the training participants showed up for their regular morning session on Monday, the electricity was off and it was revealed that someone had removed the electric meter box.


Because the cooking class participants utilize gas burners, Tapumanaia said the morning cooking session went on as scheduled, although they had to leave the doors and windows open to let some light in. However, the afternoon cooking session had to be canceled, as representatives from the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) needed that time to replace the meter box.


DYWA only uses the building in question to conduct its various training programs. The building used to be the headquarters for the Election Office. Currently, it houses the Department of Education's Guidance and Counseling Division on the first floor, and the Department of Human and Social Services on the second floor.


Samoa News understands that the entire building was without electricity since Saturday and according to a reliable source, initial efforts to contact ASPA for assistance were unsuccessful. The same source told Samoa News that ASPA told her that there was nothing they could do about it, and that she needed to contact DOE's maintenance division instead.


"The ASPA representative I spoke to basically told me they couldn't send anyone out until the DOE maintenance crew looked at it first," she said.


When Monday rolled around, representatives from the DOE maintenance crew discovered that the meter box was gone, and whoever took the box left numerous wires exposed. Employees of the DOE's Guidance and Counseling Division literally had to sit around and guard the area where the meter box was to ensure that none of the kids who usually walk by the area touched the wires.


"The guys from the DOE maintenance crew said the exposed wires were dangerous and that's why we decided to guard it until a crew from ASPA came out to fix the problem," she said, adding that they couldn't stay in their office anyway because there was no power and the air conditioners were off, making the heat unbearable.


Power was restored to the building by 12 noon on Monday. As of press time, there was still no official word on who removed the meter, or why.