Questions about Port’s plans to improve inter-island transportation


What has become of the Department of Port Administration’s plans to improve transportation infrastructure under the new Inter-Island Transportation Economic Program?

Port had planned to purchase a new landing craft unit and two tugboats under the program for which it was awarded $5 million in ARPA funding.

But according to a detailed report on the performance of the American Samoa 2023 Recovery Plan, $3.9 million of the $5 million has already been spent.

And there’s no signs of the two tugboats; and the only LCU that’s now on island is a privately owned one, acquired by businessman Papalii Laulii Alofa, MV Talitiga.

Some have questioned if ASG will still acquire an LCU of its own, or if it will lease or buy the MV Talitiga which arrived from Indonesia recently. The LCU, which has the ASG seal, is intended for transportation between Tutuila, Manua and Aunuu.

According to the US Coast Guard local safety detachment office, it has not been involved in any dealings with the LCU since it arrived.

Sources at Port Administration say the LCU is preparing for a charter to Manu’a today, but no other information was available.

Listeners will recall that ASG had purchased another vessel that Papalii bought from Hawaii a few years back, using COVID funds. Later, the US treasury ruled that this was a disallowable use of the funds and ASG had to pay back the $1.5 million it paid for the vessel.

Many calls to Papalii about his plans for the LCU have not been answered.