Dramatic flooding in Ha’alaufuli, Vava’u this morning sent residents into panic as houses became uninhabitable and the only drain became blocked.
The water washed away rocks being used to fill the new roads which are being built as part of Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa’s controversial multi-million road project.
Ha’alaufuli residents called on road work contractor, disgraced ‘Etuate Lavulavu to come and work on the roads to help ease the flooding.
They said they had warned about possible problems when the road works began.
‘Asinate Fifita Tu’akalau shared a video of the flooding to social media this afternoon, which was seen by Kaniva News.
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She told us the flooding occurred this morning.
Neiafu Town Officer Vāvā Lapota described the rain as “huge” and said it lasted from 7am until 4pm.
Kaloni, a local widow, who spoke on the video, said she had pleaded with Lavulavu to be careful about how the roads were built and was scared any heavy rain might flood her house.
She said Lavulavu did not appear to listen.
“No one listened to me,” Kaloni said.
The video showed her walking on a verandah in what appear to be floodwater.
“Look at this,” she invited viewers to look at the water.
She said there was no flooding like that before to her property.
Kaloni, who appeared emotional, said on the video she went to the estate holder as well as the district officer and complained to them about the road construction.
She invited viewers in the video to see the state of the road works.
“Kovi ‘aupito (very bad),” she said.
She said before her husband’s death he told her that if the road was built it would cause flooding.
She said the road was higher than the stone fence of her property, which Kaniva News estimated from the video as about a metre high.
The Prime Minister’s road project was announced as Tonga’s biggest project.
It was estimated to have cost taxpayers TP$300 million, to be completed in four years.
Critics of the project claimed the contractors did not have enough experience.
There have been repeated complaints about the awarding of the contracts to people with close tie to the government.
In his New Year’s speech the Prime Minister praised the project and said it was built solidly to last for a long time.
The new roads in Vava’u and in Tongatapu have been previously reported to have been damaged by heavy rains and tropical cyclones.
Lavulavu could not be reached for comment.