Is it gridlock out there on local roads yet?
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — If you felt like the territory’s roads are always crowded with vehicles — both commercial and private motor vehicles — data from the 2020 Statistical Yearbook for American Samoa, recently released by the Commerce Department’s Statistics and Analysis Division, confirm you are right.
There have always been complaints about the many cars on the road and many wonders, especially when traffic slows down to a crawl, as to the actual number of cars on the island.
And, with many residents commenting on the spike in the number of new cars on the road last year, as federal dollars poured into American Samoa as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the question as to the exact numbers becomes specific.
The 2020 Statistical Yearbook for AS provides a glimpse into the number of registered vehicles in American Samoa for the year 2020.
Of note, some residents, who Samoa News shared the data with, questioned the actual number of vehicles on the island as reported by the yearbook data, as it says “registered” vehicles.
“Wealth accumulation and prosperity have never before been seen in terms of investments such as cars and housing,” the yearbook summary states.
In 2020 the number of vehicle registrations increased by 14% with over 1,000 more privately owned vehicles compared to 2019. A total of 11,287 vehicles were registered in 2020 compared to 9,890 vehicles in 2019.
About 85% of all registered vehicles are private vehicles. Buses, Rental Cars, and Taxis and registrations all went up — likewise, government vehicles increased in one year, according to the yearbook.
For government vehicles — seen all over the road, prompting many public complaints — data in the yearbook, provided by the DPS Office of Highway Safety and ASG’s Office of Property Management, shows that in 2020 there were 630 ASG vehicles compared to 600 in 2019.
The highest number of ASG vehicles between the years 2010 and 2020, according to the data, was recorded in 2013 with 739 ASG vehicles.
However, the question about ASG vehicles that arises is: How many “new” vehicles are in the ASG fleet? And, there’s a call for lawmakers to take up this issue when the Fono convenes next January (2023).
Samoa News should also point out that trends in government collection of revenues of Largest Corporate Income Tax Payers category reported in the FY2022 2nd Quarter Continuing Disclosure Report Updated and resubmitted by the American Samoa Economic Development Authority (ASEDA) on May 19, 2022, for the FY ending September 30, 2021, as part of its requirement to bondholders of the 2015, 2018, and 2021 series, bears witness to the increase of vehicles in the territory.
The ASEDA report shows that “Auto Sales” in 2020, took over as the leading corporate contributor of taxes — with 20.1%, significantly beating out Canneries- 12.5 %, Petroleum- 11.6% and Retail- 10.9%. The Restaurant/ Fast Food category equals the Canneries contribution, while Insurance was up at 13.9% coming in 2nd to Auto Sales.
The yearbook also provided data — which came from the DPS Office of Highway Safety — breaking down the number of driver’s licenses and permits “in force” between 2010 and 2020.
The “Communication and Transportation” section of the yearbook, aside from presenting the statistical data on vehicle registration and driver licenses, it also presents data on communication and transportation services — which includes vessel and cargo movements, and air traffic and aircraft operations.
A summary in the yearbook states that the number of telephone landlines is approaching the 2010 level with 9,203 instruments in 2020 and 552 miles of telephone cables. Data breakdown — provided by ASTCA and Bluesky Communications — shows that the number of telephone landlines was 9,792 in 2010, while there was no date on the miles of telephone cables for 2010.
It also says that “cellular instruments” — referring to cell phones — had gone up by close to 30% in 2020, with 18,677 compared to 14,434 in 2019.
The yearbook points out that “phone cards are a thing of the past” while “e-charges/top ups” were more than $2.29 million in 2020 compared to over $1.86 million in 2019. E-charge/top-ups were not available in 2010 and 2011, according to data in the yearbook.
Data shows that the total number of phone cards purchased in 2020 was $12,644 while it was $12,588 in 2019.
For internet subscribers, it increased by 30% in 2020 to 6,817 compared to total subscribers of 5,215 in 2019. And the internet has come a long way for American Samoa, with only 1889 subscribers in 2010, followed by a steady increase every year up to 2020.
With the increased use of the internet, the number of facsimile services - (yes fax service is still available) — declined over the years, with only 394 subscribers in 2020 compared to 647 in 2010.
However, the number of text message subscribers went from zero in 2010 and 2011 to 109,354 in 2020 — while subscribers total of 93,682 in 2019.
The yearbook also reported that cable subscribers slightly went down from 2,411 in 2019 to 2,137 in 2020. Between the years 2010 and 2020, data in the yearbook shows that the highest number of cable subscribers was 3,249 in 2013. No data was shown for 2010 and 2011 and no explanation was provided in the data chart.
Vessel movement was cut in half compared to five years ago while cargo (in tons) doubled, according to the yearbook summary. Both waterfront and airport incoming cargo increased significantly in the last two years.
In 2020, over half of the incoming vessels were fishing boats and over half of the total cargo landed (tonnage) was oil petroleum with 519,488 tons or 388.6 million gallons.
Data breakdown of vessel and cargo movement between 2010 and 2020 is also listed in the yearbook.
The yearbook reports — unsurprisingly — that air traffic operation has been at a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic and airport activities were reduced from 5,734 flights in fiscal year (FY) 2019 to only 1,744 flights in FY2020.
Of the 1,744 flights recorded between the Pago Pago International Airport and All Destinations, 11,974 people deplaned (arrived) and 11,939 people enplaned (left), according to the yearbook summary, based on data from the Port Administration.
“When these numbers are matched against the arrival/departure statistics reported by the Immigration,” the yearbook summary says that the “Department of Port Administration data is much higher”.
“This should not be the case since the Immigration data includes Sea Port travel. Documenting travel data regardless of frontline agency needs major improvements,” DOC recommends.
Samoa News notes the previous Lolo Administration imposed in March 2020 travel entry restrictions into American Samoa under the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration, as the pandemic hits many countries around the world.
Data breakdown for vessels and aircraft on arrival and departure is outlined in the yearbook, which DOC says will be made available electronically on its website (www.doc.as.gov) and those wishing to request a copy to call 633-0120 or email to (email@example.com).