PM’s Tongatapu 3 meeting: Water tanks offered during meetings as gov’t assured constituents “serious poor road conditions” must be repaired in April

Kiliki ‘i he ‘ōtiō ‘i ‘olunga’ ke ke fanongo ki he fakataha ‘a e ‘Eiki Palēmia’ mo e kāinga Tongatapu 3.
Audios of the Prime Minister’s meeting in Tongatapu 3 were provided by the Prime Minister’s office and transcribed and translated into English by Kaniva News. This English version of the audio had been abridged.

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Gov’t says yes to Tt3’s urgent needs, water tanks offered during meetings as gov’t assured constituents “serious poor road conditions” must be repaired in April

The  Prime Minister was shocked to see some roads in Tongatapu 3 (Tt3) were in serious poor conditions.

These potholes were described during the constituency’s meeting with Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa as “quarries”, “underground ovens”, “rivers” and “wells.”

The constituents who spoke at the meeting were pleased that this was the first time a Prime Minister had met with them and taken a ground level view of their poor road conditions.

One speaker said the Prime Minister told him while they were visiting the roads that he did not know their road conditions were so severe.

The Chair of the FasiMoeAfi  Council, Betty Blake, told the meeting there were paper roads in some Tongatapu 3 residential areas the government had ignored for years.

She said when it rained people and children who lived at these areas had to walk in mud and swamp before they reached the nearest constructed roads.

She said no vehicle could access these areas because the roads had not been constructed.

Blake told the Prime Minister she wanted this to be a priority.

The Prime Minister told the meeting their roads were their top urgent need. He said they must be repaired, with work beginning in the first week of April. His statement was applauded.

The meeting was told it was expected most roads under the Prime Minister’s Roading Project 2020 could be completed by December this year.

Deputy Police Commander Ashley Fua spoke during the meeting and reported that Tt3 has recorded the highest for seizures of illicit drugs known as ice and methamphetamine.

Roading project strategy

Hon. Tu’i’onetoa said he had amended his roading project strategy from constructing and repairing roads in constituencies one by one to four or five constituencies at a time.

The amendment was made after it was evident that roading needs in all  constituencies were urgent.

He said the government has completed tender process to secure quarries and based on a cost of TP$70 per heavy truck, it was estimated the government needed $400 million to construct and repair all roads in Tonga in the next two to four years.

He said he and his cabinet had no energy and time to spare as they worked relentlessly to complete his roading project.

Tropical Cyclone Damage

Hon Tu’i’onetoa said one of the most concerning topics raised during his meetings with other constituencies was the damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Tino.

He said he had also amended the government’s response strategy for the public needs after the cyclone to speed up government’s response.  

A woman said when it rained the flooding blocked a drain at her road and she asked the Prime Minister to fix it.

Another woman who said she was elated to meet the Prime Minister asked Hon Tu’i’onetoa to review Tonga’s Chinese no-visa entry.

She also suggested building multi-purpose halls for Tongatapu 3.

Another woman from Pahu said she had been to the Ministry of Infrastructure three times and complained about the roads at which she lived. She said she was happy that the Prime Minister had visited the roads and was shocked to see the potholes and described them as “wells” and “underground ovens.”

Abandoned Residential Property

She also queried the government’s laws about residential properties which were abandoned because their owners had moved and live overseas. 

She said these abandoned places have negative impact on community safety.

There was also a concern raised during the meeting about fear that the government might confiscate abandoned lands owned by people who have moved overseas.

Another woman from Pahu has complaint about her neigbour’s pigsty which she said was too close to her house. She said the unpleasant odour from the sty had made her really hard to breathe. She said she had complaint to the Ministry of Health but nothing has been done.

A representative from the Fōfō’anga Kava Club asked the Prime Minister they needed funding to help them operate their plantation.

Another man told the Prime Minister his house was destroyed by Tropical Cyclone Gita. He said he  went around asking for assistance in government offices, but until now he had not received any assistance.

Former Prime Minster Lord Sevele spoke during the meeting and said the standard of education in Tonga had declined. 

He said he supported the Tu’i’onetoa government and called for unity as a country between the people, chiefs and a king.

Another constituent said the roofs of classrooms at Nuku’alofa Primary School in Tongatapu 2 were leaking. He said many school children in this school came from Tongatapu 3.

Evacuation Centres Accessibility

A man told the Prime Minister he wanted evacuation centres to be accessible for people with disabilities and the elderly. He said people in these categories represent 10.6 percent of the population.

He said a disabled woman complained to him that she had difficulty using her mobility scooter on the footpath at one of the roads in Tongatapu 3.

He said this footpath at Hala Tupoulahi and Mateialona Rd had sharp kerbs and an electric pole stood in the middle.

He reminded the government his proposal in 2014 to allocate a budget for people with disabilities.

He said the only government benefit funding they received was the charitable fund.

He asked the Prime Minister to allow one of the government’s quarter for the disabilities to set up an office there.

He also asked for some disability scholarship especially in computing and sign language.                                                                                                                          

Government response:

The government instructed the constituents about various ways they wanted them to follow so they could deal with their concerns successfully including asking them to see the Chief Secretary in his office, write to the Tt3 Constituency Council and pick up water tanks from the Chief Secretary.

In response to request from Fōfō’anga for a loan to help their plantation Cocker told them to apply for a grant at the Ministry of Trade and Economy.

Regarding the complaint about the drainage being blocked when it was raining, Chief Secretary Edgar Cocker said they will look at it together with the Tt3 MP. Some people also asked for water tanks and the Chief Secretary offered to help them.

Regarding requests and complaints about the disabilities the Chief Secretary invited them to meet with him to look at what they can do.

In response to concerns regarding Chinese no-visa entry category MEIDDEC Minister Hon Poasi Tei said Tonga currently has Travel Advisory in place which restricted traveling from country to country amid coronavirus fears.

He said those travelers coming from China or has been traveling through China had been prohibited from entering Tonga.

The Minister of Finance said the government has allocated  $25,000 to support wardens. He said an increase to $50,000 might help reduce the problems of drug dealings in the area.

The Minister of Police also responded to concern about landowners who have relocated to overseas countries and said there was no law in Tonga to confiscate lands if landowners had move to other countries.

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