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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Jan. 4) - Leader of the Diocese of Samoa Pago Pago Bishop Quinn Weitzel has called on Governor Togiola Tulafono to address the road conditions in the Tafuna areas of Fagaima, Kanana Fou, Fatuoaiga and Ottoville, as well as Fogagogo.

[PIR editor’s note: Tafuna is located on the east coast of Tutuila island in American Samoa.]

The home of the local Catholic Church is in Fatuaoiga, where a good number of church activities are conducted, but there are also nearby Catholic parishes - whose members access these bad road areas on a daily basis.

In response to Bishop Quinn's letter, Togiola told Samoa News yesterday that many of the problems identified in the letter are known to the government and roadwork continues with limited resources to address the issue, not only in these areas but other problematic road areas across the territory.

"I write to you on behalf of our people who find it increasingly difficult to move about in our parishes in the Tafuna area because of the dangerous condition of our roads," the local Catholic leader wrote in a December 27 letter to the governor. "The roads in our respective areas make it very difficult and sometimes impossible to attend services and functions held for our people."

Some of the problem areas Bishop Quinn pointed out include the road in front of the Mormon Church in Ottoville, where he says is "impossible with heavy rain" to travel; roads in front of the Methodist church between Fagaima and Tafuna where it "floods easily" and has "many dangerous holes"; and the road in front of Kanana Fou that also easily floods and is full of dangerous holes.

Last week's rain caused flooding in these Tafuna areas and [Territorial Emergency Management Coordinating Office] TEMCO's Folau I'aulualo said six 'cars died out' in these areas because the water was very high.

Additionally, Bishop Quinn said Fatuoaiga has "dangerous ruts and holes in access roads" and as for the road to Fogagogo, he said it is "impassable for low lying vehicle and some days impossible for all vehicles" to get through because of the flood problem there. He said the area is also "filled with holes that are dangerous to all vehicles."

"I know you are concerned about all of our people and I hope you will give some immediate consideration to the dangerous situation that exists as we begin the New Year 2006," he wrote.

Copies of his letter were also forwarded to religious leaders of the churches in the affected areas; Tualauta lawmakers, the Haleck Family and others.

Togiola said yesterday he appreciates the Bishop's concerns.

"Many of the problems he identified have been known to the government," said the governor. "Some of these roads had been identified also by callers on my radio programs in recent weeks. The government has been responding to address these problems, and will continue to do so in the months ahead, as we find more monies to help address these problems."

He continued, "These are not the areas where the government have to respond," adding that "we have flooding problems in just about every village on the island, and we have to allocate our scarce resources to take care of all these needs."

January 5, 2006

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