An audio of the Prime Minister’s meeting in Vava’u was provided by the Prime Minister’s office and transcribed and translated into English by Kaniva News. Some parts of the content of this article had been abridged and rephrased (in English) to make them clearer to our English readers.
Town and district officers in Vava’u poured out their frustrations at having poor road conditions for many years during a meeting with the Prime Minister last week.
Some of the poor conditions were described as having been there a century ago and nothing had been done to fix them.
The officers also told the Prime Minister, who was in Vava’u to visit damaged areas caused by Tropical Cyclone Tino earlier last week, they wanted safe water tanks and wharves upgraded.
They said roads to their plantations were the first priority because their crops were their main source of income.
The town officer of Houmafaleono, Sione Hingano Vaitaki, said he believed some of the potholes in their roads today had been there since the 1910s (“hongofulu tupu.”)
Three villages including Mangia, Houmafaleono and Ha’akio used the same road, he said.
He said he believed they had the poorest road condition in the whole of Tonga.
He told the Prime Minister they have lack of safe water tanks.
Vaitaki described the frustration his residents had experienced by saying they thought they were not part of the government of Tonga and came from another planet
The longomapu town officer Sione Loseli said roads to the plantations were filled with rocks, but because they were left unsealed the fillinsg were eroded by rainwater.
He said his people had to park their vehicles where the filling ended and walk to their plantations.
It was a pity this happened when it was rainning, he said.
Loseli said his residents agreed to use the parliamentary constituency fund allocation to buy rocks for the roads.
The town officer said his people questioned his responsbility to fix the roads.
He said he explained to them that he had been to the Ministry of Infrastructure a number of times and raised the issue, but the Office directed him to talk to the Minister.
He said he could not reach the Minister.
‘Amanaki Fūnaki, the town officer of Tu’anuku, told the Prime Minister during the meeting the road maintenance queue meant it would take too long before the Vava’u 14 roads were repaired.
All town and district officers at the meeting including Neiafu, Hihifo and town officer of ‘Utungake complained to the Prime Minister about their poor road conditions.
The ‘Utungake town officer said they had no public wharf and only used wharves which belonged to motel owners in the island. However, they were damged by Cyclone Tino.
He also asked the Prime Minister to repair the causeway linking ‘Utungake with another island.
The town officer of Matamaka asked the government to help install water pumps in the island.
The Prime Minister, who was joined by a delegation of Cabinet Ministers and People’s Party officials, said he was able to visit Hila Ki Tapana and some of its surrounding sites and had a ground-view of the damage and he understood what to do.
He told the meeting to expect that in the next two years it would be a different story.
People who spoke at the meeting along with the officers supported the government’s new road project.